The Federal National Party has walked away from its commitments to protect the national water trigger on Coal Seam Gas (CSG) mining, and voted last week to allow it to be handed back to the states.
The Federal National member for Page, Kevin Hogan, had promised to cross the floor on the CSG issue if necessary, but instead last week turned his back on iron-clad commitments made to his electorate.
"Last week in Parliament, the National Party voted to allow the Federal water trigger to be handed back to the states, rendering it completely meaningless" said Phil Laird, National Co-ordinator for Lock the Gate Alliance.
"This trigger was introduced because of the severe risks to water supplies posed by CSG and the abject failures of the states to properly assess or protect important, nationally significant water sources.
“Self interested state governments can’t be trusted to properly regulate nationally important water resources that cross state boundaries such as the Murray Darling Basin or the Great Artesian Basin.
"Voting this trigger down is a huge betrayal of farming communities and our environment. LNP figures who vowed publicly that the water trigger would not be touched if they were elected, should now hang their heads in shame" he said.
"Despite iron-clad guarantees to his electorate, last week Kevin Hogan voted to allow the Federal water trigger to be handed back to the states" said Michael McNamara, spokesperson with Gasfield Free Northern Rivers.
"Before the last election, Hogan made a specific commitment not to support Federal environment powers being handed back to the states and threatened to 'cross the floor' on CSG.
"However, last week in Federal Parliament that commitment lay in tatters, and Kevin Hogan voted for the Bill which has gutted the water trigger on CSG mining. He had his one big chance to 'cross the floor', and he blew it.
"Kevin Hogan staked his candidacy for the seat of Page on the CSG issue, and the people of the electorate deserve to know they have been abandoned. If this new Bill passes the Senate, Federal decisions on CSG water impacts will effectively be history" he said.
Commitments on the Water Trigger before the 2013 Federal Election.
In a candidates survey before the election last year, Kevin Hogan was asked:
"If elected to office, will you pledge to promote the following policies within your party and in public, and to vote to implement them via new or amended Federal laws:
- Retention of current Federal environment powers, ruling out devolving them to the states and opposing any fast-tracking of coal or gas developments?"
His answer: 'Yes'. Full response from Kevin Hogan available on request.
During a tour with Kevin Hogan of the Page electorate in the lead-up to the Federal election last year, Joe Hockey stated that "Our policy is to continue the CSG policies that are in place, it's no different......Would we water down the water trigger amendment, I don't think so".
Northern Star, August 30 2013
Video footage of Kevin Hogan assuring 700 Lismore residents earlier this year that he had gained a guarantee from the National Party not to reverse the water trigger is available on request.
The Bill Passed Last Week
The Bill which passed the lower house of Federal Parliament last week is titled the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Bilateral Agreement Implementation) Bill 2014.
As a result of Schedule 3, Part 1 of the Bill, state governments will take back sole decision-making power relating to water impacts for CSG and coal where a 'bilateral agreement' is in place. Draft bilateral agreements have already been developed for NSW and Queensland. The water trigger will still exist on paper, but it will be rendered completely meaningless.