In a national first, the Victorian Government today announced a permanent ban on the exploration and development of all onshore unconventional gas, including fracking and coal seam gas.
The permanent legislative ban, to be introduced to Parliament later this year, will “protect the clean, green reputation of Victoria’s agriculture sector”.
The decision forms part of the government response to the 2015 Parliamentary Inquiry into Onshore Unconventional Gas in Victoria, which received more than 1600 submissions, mostly opposed to onshore unconventional gas.
“Our farmers produce some of the world’s cleanest and freshest food. We won’t put that at risk with fracking,” Premier Daniel Andrews said.
“Victorians have made it clear that they don’t support fracking and that the health and environmental risks involved outweigh any potential benefits.”
Exemptions to the ban will remain for other types of activities that are not covered by the current moratorium, such as gas storage, carbon storage research and accessing offshore resources. Exploration and development for offshore gas will also continue.
Until the legislation is passed by Parliament, the current moratorium on unconventional onshore gas exploration and development will stay in place.
The Labor Government will also legislate to extend the current moratorium on the exploration and development of conventional onshore gas until 30 June 2020, noting that fracking will remain banned.
Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Brendan Pearson said the ban will hurt households, and is a “retrograde step for the nation, not just Victoria”.
“The Victorian Government’s permanent ban on unconventional gas exploration and development will reduce the availability of gas for energy and industrial use across the country,” Mr Pearson said.
“With mining and minerals processing a large user of electricity, Australia’s ability to compete on the international stage depends on access to inexpensive, reliable energy supplies.
“This decision removes a key energy generation option from the energy mix and contradicts the recent COAG Ministerial communiqué that emphasised the need to increase the overall supply of onshore gas.
“The Victorian Government has already signalled its intention to move away from coal-fired electricity generation in the state, pre-empting any reasonable policy decision with the setting of highly ambitious renewable energy targets.”
Mr Pearson said the decision will lead to higher prices for all energy customers.