Environment

Industry says Victorian fracking ban is ‘wrong’

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Jules Kirby. PHOTO: Alicia Vilches.

A WA industry group has hit out at the Victorian Government’s decision to permanently ban unconventional gas exploration methods, claiming there had been a “failure of the political process.”

The Victorian ban was announced on August 30, ruling out the use of the controversial hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’, method.

Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association chief operating officer for WA Stedman Ellis said the decision was influenced by scare campaigners whose statements were exaggerated and misleading.

“To see the government, in a state which is so dependent on natural gas, give in to really unfounded scare campaigns is really disappointing,” Mr Ellis said.

WA group Frack Free Future campaign co-ordinator Jules Kirby has called for an inquiry into fracking in WA, claiming  the State Government’s 2015 inquiry into the issue was “an embarrassment”.

Mr Kirby said the 2015 inquiry was set up to give industry the approvals it wanted.

“We’ve had pretty much a white-wash of an inquiry… Incredibly narrow terms of reference, incredibly partial interpretation of the evidence that was placed before it. Why would that have happened? The government of the day and the weight of industry that had the government’s ear was pushing very hard for a clear path to be laid out before them,” he said.

The WA Environmental and Public Affairs Committee’s 2015 inquiry collected evidence over a two-year period and found both proponents and opponents of fracking had exaggerated their arguments.

“The committee has formed the view during the course of this inquiry that the truth lies somewhere between these two views,” the report said.

Mr Ellis said the WA oil and gas industry’s activities had been deemed safe by researchers and scientists.

“All of the credible science and fact suggests that the risks are negligible,” he said.

“We’ve been operating here [in WA] for five decades without the consequences of these extreme claims being evident.”

Victoria is the first state in Australia to ban fracking, with ongoing inquiries continuing in other states.

A bulletin released by the Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority in 2014 listed environment and water quality, air quality and human health as potential areas of impact from fracking activity.