Vic opposition backs call to extend gas moratorium

Victorian Liberal opposition leader Matthew Guy

Victorian Liberal opposition leader Matthew Guy

Victoria’s opposition Liberal Party has backed calls to extend the state’s moratorium on onshore gas exploration and production.

Opposition leader Matthew Guy urged the government to extend the ban until 2020 citing the Victorian Auditor General’s suggestion that the regulatory framework is not yet up to scratch.

Victoria is the only Australian state with the blanket ban, which was first introduced by the previous Liberal government in 2012.

Mr Guy said no case had yet been made to support the expansion of the unconventional gas industry.

“The Liberal-Nationals Coalition position supports local communities who don’t want Daniel Andrews to rush out and make any ill-informed decisions,” he said.

“Extending the moratorium until 2020 will allow time for the regulatory work recommended by the Auditor-General to be carried and for the findings of the parliamentary inquiry to be fully assessed.”

The Auditor General’s report on unconventional gas was tabled at the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Onshore Unconventional Gas last month.

In its report, the Auditor General cited recommendations from the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF), which called for the moratorium to be extended to 2020.

As reported by Gas Today, the Auditor General’s submission to the inquiry claimed that the existing regulatory system is incapable of managing the industry.

“The current regulatory system will not be able to effectively manage unconventional gas risks. The system is complex and fragmented, making it difficult for DEDJTR (the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources) to effectively implement and administer,” the report said.

The Auditor General is due to front the inquiry on October 6 in a public hearing.

The inquiry committee is chaired by David Davis, Liberal member for Southern Metropolitan Melbourne, Shadow Minister for Planning, Local Government and Equality.

Minister for Energy and Resources Lily D’Ambrosio said the inquiry is considering information from scientific and independent experts, local farmers and communities.

“It was the Andrews Labor Government that first recognised there were significant gaps in our regulations and scientific knowledge about unconventional gas and called for a moratorium back in 2012,” Minister D’Ambrosio said.

“The government will consider the recommendations when the report is handed down in December and will not be making knee-jerk decisions because there are by-elections in western Victoria.”

Today’s announcement from the state opposition has angered the country’s peak body for oil and gas exploration.

Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association Chief Operating Officer for eastern Australia, Paul Fennelly said Mr Guy’s announcement would curb gas supply, push up prices and make manufacturing less competitive.

“This decision raises serious questions about political leadership and whether or not Victoria is truly a state that welcomes investment, regional economic growth and job creation,” he said.

“Natural gas supply has become a political football; a race to the bottom that ignores evidence based on science, technology, and world class professional standards.

“While we understand some people have concerns about onshore gas, it is important that policies aimed at regulating industry recognise the many substantial independent reviews that have found it to be safe.

According to the APPEA Chief, Victoria is the largest consumer of natural gas in the country with 1.8 million households and hundreds of manufacturers reliant on it for their energy supply.

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