Speech in favour of a moratorium on CSG

In Parliament | 13.08.15

Petroleum (Onshore) Amendment (Prohibit Coal Seam Gas) Bill 2015

The Hon. PENNY SHARPE [11.18 a.m.]: I support the Petroleum (Onshore) Amendment (Prohibit Coal Seam Gas) Bill 2015. When is the risk too high? That it is what today debate is fundamentally is about. What does the science tell us? That is also what today's debate is about. What do our communities tell us? That is another question all members must consider. Finally, as we debate and then vote on this bill, what is the role of government and this Parliament in deciding how to manage the risks associated with coal seam gas? Labor has a clear view in relation to coal seam gas [CSG]. Unless the industry is proven to be safe, we should not be proceeding; the risks are simply too high.

There have been many contributions to the debate, and I do not intend to go through the technical aspects of the bill because they have been well covered. I point members to Labor's amendments, which are well considered. We are fundamentally talking about the Government's choice to proceed with coal seam gas in this State. The NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer has rightly done a lot of work, and probably the most comprehensive assessment of the risks of coal seam gas to New South Wales. She listed a range of issues that need to be sorted out. These are clear; they are also serious. The areas of concern are contamination and depletion of groundwater resources and drinking water catchments; impacts on the co-produced water from CSG activities on the environment; impacts on the environment of hydraulic fracturing or fracking; impacts on human health from air quality, chemicals and noise; the rapid expansion of the industry; land access and landholder rights; and the potential impact on property values.

The Chief Scientist and Engineer also referred to fugitive emissions; uncertainty of the science; and a lack of data, especially baseline data, and a lack of trust in the data sources. The industry is moving ahead of scientific understanding and regulation. This is what the Chief Scientist and Engineer said. We are moving ahead too fast. The risks are too high for us to risk the future of this State, our land and our water. I acknowledge the campaigners who continue to say that the risks are too high. It is our job to manage those risks. If we get it wrong, the future is uncertain. The future will see our waters poisoned, our land not viable, and our loss of ability to look after ourselves and our State and to support the health of our communities.

Labor is putting up a sensible set of clear amendments. Key water sources are off limits. There needs to be a buffer around residential areas. Coal seam gas exploration simply cannot proceed in the Northern Rivers region and the Pilliga. National parks and wetlands should not be at risk through coal seam and unconventional gas extraction. Our position is clear.

We have a serious decision to make today. When future generations look at the decision we have made, I hope they will see that we looked at the future, we were sensible about how to proceed and we said that at this stage the risks are too high.

This is not safe; we cannot proceed. We need to get this right.

SOURCE: Hansard