Landholders welcome WA fracking inquiry but say it’s not enough

Published: September 06, 2017

Landholders across the state have welcomed today’s long-awaited announcement of an inquiry into the fracking industry in Western Australia but say it doesn't go far enough.

Co-convenor of the Gasfield Free South West Alliance Kathy Thomson said her group welcomed the announcement for an inquiry but wanted to see more detail.

“It is good to see that Labor have moved towards implementing their promise for an inquiry into the fracking industry,” Ms Thomson said.

"We are glad to see the McGowan Government has finally stated they will legislate the fracking bans, even if it’s just a delegated legislation. This has been hard fought by the community. Now we need certainly as to when this legislation will come into force.

"Meanwhile, the gas companies continue to explore for unconventional gas on our farmlands and in our water catchment areas and we still don’t have the right to say no to this invasive industry.”

A spokesperson for Lock the Gate in WA, Jane Hammond said the inquiry announcement was a good start but communities wanted to make sure it was thorough and scientifically rigorous and were concerned that it failed to include any social or economic impacts.

"Those who are likely to be impacted are concerned the inquiry might not do a thorough job in light of broad and far reaching fracking industry impacts,” Ms Hammond said.

"WA Labor admits this inquiry will ignore the socio-economic impacts of fracking on other industries, and won't investigate the comparative value of fracking against other energy producing technologies.

"We know the biggest issue with fracking gasfields is their massive scale, the water pollution from chemical and waste spills, plus the negative impacts on the surrounding economy and industries.

"We will continue to keep the pressure up on the McGowan Government to ensure all these far reaching impacts from the fracking industry are thoroughly investigated by this WA inquiry. We can't afford for parts of the fracking industry's harmful impacts to be ignored by this inquiry."

Kimberley Traditional Custodian Anne Poelina said groups she represented were concerned that  Labor’s promise to give traditional owners the right of veto over fracking on their lands was yet to be introduced into the mix.

"Labor promised to give Traditional Owners the right to say No to exploration and mining for oil and gas on their lands just prior to the state election but so far we have heard nothing of this promise, which must align with the Fitzroy River Declaration. The unconventional gas industry continues to explore for gas on traditional lands and culturally sensitive areas,” Dr Poelina said.

Mid west farmer Rod Copeland said the inquiry was well overdo but should also include reference to all forms of unconventional gas extraction and all aspects of fracking from exploration to how the waste product was going to be stored and disposed of, chemicals and land access.

"We would also ask that the inquiry examine who pays in the event of a fracking accident and who is left to foot the bill for the clean-up after the gas companies get the gas out of the ground and pack up and leave,” Mr Copeland said.

President of the Capel branch of the Country Women's Association Toni Steinbrenner said her branch was disappointed that the inquiry only covered fracking and not other forms of unconventional gas mining and exploration.

"Our branch is deeply concerned at this industry and what it means for the future of our farms, water and health. We want it banned,” Mrs Steinbrenner said.

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