New gas licenses a risky move for state government

November 5, 2013.

Friends of the Earth media release

Last friday the Premier, Dr Napthine, announced that the government would maintain the current moratorium on the process of fracking to access unconventional gas in Victoria.

“With much of our best farmland under exploration licence for coal and gas, the moratorium had taken some heat out of the deep community concern about new fossil fuel projects” said Friends of the Earth co-ordinator Cam Walker. “Extending the moratorium was a smart move, pushing at least part of the problem away, and potentially beyond next year’s state election.”

“But the government must be aware that community concern goes well beyond the process of fracking. There are deeply and widely held fears that new coal mines and gas rigs will contaminate water, damage food production, industrialise rural landscapes, consume vast volumes of water, cause public health impacts, and pump massive volumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.”

“The moratorium was always a partial solution, and communities have been arguing for a ban on all further exploration, and the issuing of further exploration licenses until we know whether these industries will be safe for land, people and water.”

“The announcement that the government has now approved new exploration licenses for oil and gas in western Victoria is like throwing fuel onto fire. It will aggravate rural communities, and opens up the government to the charge of being two faced and inconsistent on the question of energy policy. Having earnt some credit in the eyes of rural communities by extending the moratorium, the government has made a wildly unstrategic decision to approve new licenses, which will ensure the community campaign against new coal and gas will stretch from Gippsland to the SA border. This brings a number of new electorates into the picture, and could turn out to be a nightmare for the government in the build-up to the 2014 election.”

Further comment

Cam Walker 0419 338 047


The Australian Financial Review (5 November 2013) identified that he new licenses were approved in August and listed in the government gazette last thursday.