The Nationals have called on the Melbourne Labor Government to ensure a committee inquiring into on-shore gas visits Gippsland and holds public hearings after supporting the Inquiry’s establishment in the Parliament this week.
Nationals Eastern Victoria Region MP, Melina Bath, who is a member of the Upper House committee tasked with the review, said she had called on the committee during its first meeting last night to ensure it visits country areas to hear from those likely to be most affected.
“This is a very important issue for Gippsland and other parts of the state and it would be wrong for Labor to allow the committee to be stuck in Melbourne when the impacts of this industry would be felt in regional Victoria.
“Just as the The Nationals in Coalition Government instituted a moratorium on on-shore gas development, including fracking, and commissioned an extensive public consultation campaign, we believe it is important that this parliamentary inquiry both visits the areas and hears from the people that may be affected,” Ms Bath said.
The Nationals Member for Gippsland East, Tim Bull, said it was important that the Victorian Government take a cautious and conservative approach to this issue.
“The important thing is that we ensure that nothing occurs under Labor that would threaten our land or water resources, a position we have always had,” Mr Bull said.
“We also believe that the inquiry should also consider onshore conventional gas, not just unconventional gas, but Labor and the Greens opposed our amendment to broaden the terms of reference."
The Nationals Member for Gippsland South, Danny O'Brien, said The Nationals’ position on on-shore gas is very clear.
"We strongly believe that landholders deserve the right to say no to onshore gas extraction activity on their property, if it ever proceeds, and we will not support any activity that harms our state’s water or the environment,” Mr O’Brien said.
"Victoria’s agricultural industries are the lifeblood of our regional communities and are too valuable to jeopardise.”
The Nationals Member for Morwell, Russell Northe, said the Greens were playing politics with the inquiry, circulating amendments to the terms of reference just minutes before a vote and without consulting other parties in the Council.
“If they were serious about these amendments they would have distributed them weeks before, not minutes, before the vote.
“The Greens are more interested in playing politics on this issue, rather than supporting communities that are concerned about the issue,” Mr Northe said.