D'Ambrosio refuses Vic gas inquiry's request

Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources, Lily D’Ambrosio

Victorian Minister for Energy and Resources, Lily D’Ambrosio

Victoria’s Minister for Energy, Lily D’Ambrosio has refused to appear before the Parliamentary inquiry into onshore unconventional gas.

The inquiry’s committee called on the Minister to give evidence in its interim report, published last week.

“Over the coming months, the Committee will carefully review the evidence it has gathered to inform its Final Report to Parliament regarding the issues surrounding a potential onshore unconventional gas industry in Victoria,” the report said.

“The Committee has also determined to request the Minister for Energy and Resources, Hon Lily D’Ambrosio, appear before the Committee to give evidence.”

However the committee’s request was rejected by the Minister, who said enough government experts have given evidence at the inquiry.

“Importantly, the Inquiry is relying on science presented by independent experts and is engaging with farmers, local councils, regional communities, industry, and environment groups so that concerns can be addressed,” Minister D’Ambrosio told Gas Today.

“There have also been ample opportunities for senior public servants to present to the Committee on technical matters and past precedence is that Ministers from one House do not appear before Committees of another.

“The Government looks forward to receiving the Committee’s final report in December 2015 and we will consider its recommendations at that time.”

A lack of public sector and community knowledge of unconventional gas exploration, production and the risks associated has been a repeated concern of speakers at the inquiry’s hearings in recent weeks.

When asked how the knowledge deficit could be improved while a moratorium remains in place, stopping all exploratory activities in Victoria, Minister D’Ambrosio said the road block gave the community and industry “confidence and certainty” heading into the future.

The Minister’s refusal to front the inquiry was quickly criticised by Shadow Energy and Resources Minister, David Southwick.

“The Minister is hiding from her own government’s inquiry into unconventional gas,” Mr Southwick told Gas Today.

“This is yet another example of Labor missing in action, using reviews and inquiries as smokescreens, when Victoria needs leadership.”

The Victorian Parliamentary inquiry into onshore unconventional gas is set to hold another public hearing on September 15 and a final report due December 1.

Eddie Morton is associate editor at Gas Today: emorton@gs-press.com.au

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