Fracking will not take place in Victoria under a Coalition government, according to Premier Denis Napthine.
Speaking after a meeting in Hamilton yesterday with anti-fracking groups from western Victoria, Dr Napthine said a lot more research was needed on fracking’s impact on underground water supplies before his government would approve the practice.
In a strong indication that fracking will continue to be banned after a moratorium on the practice expires in July 2015, Dr Napthine said that “under my premiership” there would be no fracking that jeopardised prime agricultural production and underground water supplies.
He made the strong statement after meeting yesterday with representatives of anti-fracking groups from Hamilton, Digby, Dartmoor, Drumborg, Byaduk and Portland.
While Dr Napthine is opposed to fracking, a practice used to mine unconventional gases such as coal seam gas, he said he had no plans to give farmers the right to veto mining on their land.
He said giving companies licences to mine other people’s land had worked well for Victoria and he could see no reason to change the situation.
Dr Napthine also dismissed a question about why the Victorian Liberal and National parties had accepted donations from companies involved in the mining of onshore natural gas.
He said the parties had complied with the rules regarding party donations and any argument they had acted questionably was “nonsense”.
State co-ordinator for the anti-fracking coalition Lock the Gate, Chloe Aldenhoven, said eight communities in western Victoria had so far completed surveys to declare their opposition to the onshore natural gas industry that used fracking. She said an average of 96 per cent of the landholders surveyed opposed the onshore natural gas industry.
Digby landholder and small business owner Helen Henry said her group was heartened Dr Napthine had acknowledged community opposition to the industry.
“But if the Premier is serious about allaying community concern, he needs to put his words into action,” Ms Henry said
“He has the power to create no-go zones in areas where the community does not want the industry to go ahead. He has the power to enact a statewide ban.”