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Gas companies must not be allowed to take advantage of coronavirus delay

Lock the Gate Alliance is calling on the Palaszczuk Government to introduce a moratorium on new Channel Country petroleum licences, after the public submission process was put on hold due to the coronavirus crisis.

In an email to the Alliance, the Queensland Government confirmed consultation on the Future Management of the Lake Eyre Basin was on hold, and “the current regulatory framework for the Lake Eyre Basin remains in place”.

“While we support the government’s decision to halt consultation during this health crisis, we are deeply concerned gas companies will take advantage of the fact the status quo remains in place,” Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland coordinator Ellie Smith said.

“Gas companies have already been granted petroleum licences covering hundreds of thousands of hectares of Channel Country floodplains, despite multiple Palaszczuk Government election promises to protect these iconic desert river systems.

“Over two terms this government has failed to fulfil its commitment to protect the region.

“The industry has exploited these delays to advance their exploration works and shore up their developments.

“As a show of good faith, the Palaszczuk Government must now enact a moratorium on new approvals in the Channel Country floodplains until consultation on the reforms can take place."

The Palaszczuk Government’s draft Lake Eyre Basin policy, announced on the Friday before Christmas, looks set to allow gas wells, pipelines, and new roads to be built on the sensitive floodplains. The draft policy was subsequently met with criticism from graziers, Traditional Owners, and local governments. 

“Importantly, it fails to rule out fracking the sensitive floodplains as promised,” Ms Smith said.

“We’re lucky to have some of the last free-flowing desert rivers left on earth in outback Queensland, and the fracking industry should not be let loose on them.

“If fracking is allowed to proceed to full production in the Channel Country it would have a massive impact on water resources and the organic beef industry that thrives in the region.

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