Victoria will become the first state in Australia to permanently ban fracking, if the bill that was introduced to parliament last week passes as expected.
If approved, the bill will permanently ban onshore unconventional gas exploration and development, including fracking and coal seam gas, and extend the moratorium on onshore gas exploration and development to June 2020.
Resources Minister Wade Noonan said Victorians had resoundingly rejected fracking.
‘‘It threatens the reputation of our vital agricultural sector and puts the state’s world-class food producers and regional economies at risk,’’ Mr Noonan said.
‘‘Our ban on fracking is what the community has asked for, and I call on the Victorian Liberals and Nationals to support the bill as it’s debated in parliament.’’
VFF president David Jochinke said the move was a ‘‘great outcome for farmers’’ who were concerned about the unknown impacts of onshore gas mining.
‘‘Agriculture is a vital resource in Victoria, considering we are the nation’s biggest food and fibre exporter ($11.9billion in 2015-16), so it’s a relief to know that both sides recognise the importance of agriculture to our state’s future,’’ Mr Jochinke said.
‘‘Victoria has precious groundwater reserves, and without hard scientific evidence that show the risks of onshore gas development can be properly managed, those reserves shouldn’t be put at risk.’’
The Victorian Opposition party room agreed to support the fracking ban last week, breaking away from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the federal Coalition, who have criticised the current Victorian policy.
In a speech to the National Press Club earlier this month, Mr Turnbull said state bans on onshore gas development were resulting in higher prices.
‘‘In Victoria the closure of Hazelwood will cost the state 20 per cent of its electricity capacity, yet the Victorian Labor Government supports a 40 per cent renewable target and opposes all onshore gas development, conventional and unconventional, while Victorian gas reserves are beginning to decline as exploration fails to replace production,’’ he said.
‘‘Increasing gas supply in Australia is vital for our energy future and vital for industries and jobs, but state bans on onshore gas development will result in more expensive and less reliable energy.’’