State Governments are the key decision makers responsible for issuing fracking licenses to mining companies in our state. During the 2017 election campaign fracking was a major issue, and in the lead-up to the 2017 WA election the Australian Labor Party made a number of important commitments:
Conduct a public inquiry to examine environment, health, agriculture, heritage and community impacts (including full analysis of lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions) prior to any fracking activity (including future exploration).
Place a moratorium on the use of fracking until such an Inquiry can demonstrate that process will not compromise the environment, groundwater, public health or contribute adversely to climate change.
Ban fracking in the South West, Peel region and Perth metropolitan area.
Any decision on fracking in the Kimberley will only be made with the approval of Traditional Owners.
WA Labor is watering down their promises
Recent statements made by our new Labor Mines and Petroleum Minister, Bill Johnston (red tie bleow) have fed the growing uncertainty around the legislation of the bans and moratorium in WA. It appears that WA Labor is adopting a narrow view on what constitutes ‘fracking' and that areas are being reduced to a Ministerial policy statement without legislative backing — which is not in line with the accepted community understanding of Labor’s pre-election commitments.
Such an approach fails to give certainty to the people of Western Australia — who are already expressing deep disappointment that this signals a watering down and retreat from Labor’s pre-election commitments.
The GST debacle
In addition to this, Scott Morrison (blue tie), New South Wales MP, Treasurer and a senior member of Prime Minister Turnbull's Cabinet and Expenditure Review Committee has recently put pressure on state and territories to abandon bans or moratoria on gas fracking and exploration, by threatening to cut GST shares of those who have acted on community concerns and have implemented bans or moratoria.
Scott Morrison's’ comments demonstrate complete disregard of the devastating impact the unconventional gas and fracking industry will have, and have already had on farmland, tourism and water resources over in Queensland.
Meanwhile our Premier has stayed silent
WA Treasurer and Energy Minister Ben Wyatt has been quoted saying he is,"relaxed about the federal government's position in respect of some of the states reluctance to exploit their resources”. This does not give any reassurance about how the WA inquiry may shape up for the rest of the state — considering the South West was supposedly safe with a ban.
This is especially worrying considering the Department of Mines and Petroleum released their five year plan to open up thousands more gas exploration and production licenses, predominantly in the Kimberley, Mid West and South West. Another key reason why Labor needs to know that we have not forgotten their election commitments on fracking and expect them to be fully implemented. We must hold them to their word.
All this, and we haven’t even mentioned the unravelling fake energy crisis...