Ms SANDELL (Melbourne) — I rise today to congratulate over 60 Victorian communities who have declared themselves gas field free. Victoria is currently covered by over 400 000 hectares of approved coal, coal seam gas, tight gas and shale gas exploration licences. But in communities across Victoria, farmers stand shoulder to shoulder with environmentalists, health professionals, people in tourism and locals in calling for a permanent ban on unconventional gas, fracking and coal seam gas.
Unconventional gas is not a clean option. Gas is a fossil fuel, emitting toxic pollution and greenhouse gases. It has been shown to have a damaging effect on groundwater and aquifers. We do not need this industry, especially when instead we could make a direct transition to renewable energy. There is simply no reason to risk our prime farmland and our water supply or to allow a dangerous and polluting industry to destroy existing economies in regional Victoria. Recent polling across the state shows a clear majority are opposed to coal seam gas and fracking. It is a vote-changing issue.
Many states and countries across the world have introduced bans on unconventional gas after seeing the devastating impacts on water, health and farmland. In Victoria we have the opportunity to avoid these detrimental impacts by ensuring this toxic industry does not get a foothold in our state.
I commend the efforts of local communities, farmers, the Lock the Gate Alliance, the Gippsland Alliance, the Otway Basin Alliance, the Western District Alliance and others who are standing up for our farmland, environment and people. I hope Labor, the Liberals and The Nationals will heed their call and will join the Greens in supporting a permanent ban on unconventional gas in Victoria.