Geelong rejects onshore gas extraction and supports permanent ban

On 14 October 2014, City of Greater Geelong Council made a formal decision to reject fracking and call for a permanent ban on onshore gas extraction in the region. In an Australian fracking-context, this is big breaking news: with a population of 215,000 residents, Geelong now takes a leading position among Victoria’s 29 self-declared “gasfield free” zones.

Geelong wants a permanent ban on fracking. Citizens express their concerns with petition of 1,170 signatures and numerous meetings, and on 14 October 2014, the City of Greater Geelong Council decided to listen to the community and took a very strong position – unanimous in the chamber – against onshore gas extraction.

The Geelong Council’s decision didn’t happen out of the blue. Several Frack Free groups in the region have been campaigning hard with film evenings, information nights, photo shoots, social media and radio shows, letterboxing, a survey in four communities, a petition, radio program, and an endless streams of letters, media releases and newsletters over about a year’s time, culminating with a one-month submission process in Council, where Council received 447 submissions against fracking and only one in defence of it.



Duty of care
Eight councillors spoke against fracking during the debate at the council meeting. Cr Jock Irvine did a wonderful job in leading the way by proposing a motion that would ask not only for an extention of the existing moratorium, but for a permanent ban on fracking. 

“We have had a clear message sent from the community and we have a duty of care,” Cr Irvine said.

» Geelong Advertiser published a detailed report on the debate in Council.

» Council meeting minutes

» Audio interview with Cr Andy Richards, Environment and Sustainability Portfolio holder, about the Council decision.




South-west Victoria communities acknowledged in the Senate

Moment of joy
The photo above shows part of the approximately 20 citizens who had come to attend the council meeting, listen to the councillors debate and learn what they would decide on.

This was a moment of joy after a long grass roots campaign. After a lot of hard work with informing everyone, we now have got a very strong position – with both Council and community on the same front – to advocate to state and federal government that we want a permanent ban on fracking in Victoria.

In legal terms, fracking is still a state government issue in Victoria, and all Geelong Council can do, really, is come with some recommendations and send some letters. Even so, that is an important step in the right direction even so, in particular right before a state election.

Just last week, the State Government launched a website with a map where citizens who are uncertain as to whether their property may be located in a specific area allocated to a mining lease, can look up the details. What this website-launch indirectly tells us is that the Government is still quietly going ahead with more of its plans to mine for gas.

However, with citizens and Council united on this issue, we can work and stand together and support each other. Lakes Oil and whoever is thinking of starting fracking in Geelong region, including on the Bellarine Peninsula and in Surf Coast Shire and the Otways now will have to think about whether it will be worth the effort for them. Because they know what they can expect …if they really have the guts to show up with their drilling gear here.

Important breaking news from the evening in City Hall was how the renewable energy investment issue was being discussed among the councillors in a new and positive way.

“This municipality can be amonst the leaders to say that we want a renewable sector developed, and we want it now,” Cr Rod Macdonald said.

This sounded promising for the municipality’s Environmental Management Strategy which allegedly is now ready to be put forward to Council in two weeks. On 28 October the council is expected to launch its new Environment Management Strategy which is based on the One Planet Living principles, one of which is the Zero Carbon principle.

» More about this topic here.


The City of Greater Geelong has now committed itself to lobby the State Government against any attempts by the gas mining industry to establish mining in the region. If the State Government chooses to override Council’s position (say next year), then local protest action will be needed to stop the trucks rolling into the region. 

Until then, we will enjoy the break while we can.

Thank you to those who sent in a submission, and especially to those who have supported the call to assist in attending the various rallies, photo shoots and meetings. Your contributions have resulted in a great result so far.


Media coverage

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» Geelong Advertiser – 17 October 2014:
City slams door on fracking
Article by David Cairns



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» Geelong Advertiser – 17 October 2014
Council spot on with gas decision
Letter to the editor by Vicky Gosser



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» Geelong Independent – 16 October 2014



GI_Lee_turning-off-the-gas16-10-2014

» Geelong Independent – 16 October 2014
Turning off the gas
Letter to the editor by Lee Gladwell



» The Sustainable Hour on 94.7 The Pulse – 15 October 2014:
Your council is prepared to evolve. Are you?
“In the 47th Sustainable Hour, we report from the meeting on 14 October where Geelong Council unanimously voted to advocate for a permanent state ban on fracking.” Podcast by Mik Aidt and Anthony Gleeson. Audio interview with Cr Andy Richards about the Council decision.



» The Weekly Times – 15 October 2014:
Geelong council wants a permanent ban on onshore gas and fracking
Article by Cimara Doutré


» Bay FM – 15 October 2014:
Geelong council rejects fracking
Article by Rebecca McDonald


» Geelong Advertiser – 14 October 2014:
Geelong councillors say no to fracking
Article by David Cairns




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“Democracy is the big winner in this – without such extensive community involvement, the result could well have been different. Now let’s giddyup & work together to have Geelong lead Oz into a post carbon world. With the old foundations of Shell, Ford & Alcoa gone or going, a golden opportunity awaits us via a clean energy driven transformation.”
Anthony Gleeson, commenting on Geelong Advertiser’s story



3 thoughts on “Geelong rejects onshore gas extraction and supports permanent ban”

  1. Well done fracktivists <3 we got over the line with a unanimous decision by Council to reject fracking for our region <3 congratulations to all who wrote submissions and who lobbied the council and who put in countless unpaid hours of work on this vital topic to keep our ancient pristine sacred aquifers untainted by fracking chemicals 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for all your work on this matter. I went to the Council Meeting and was very impressed in the manner you seem to have educated/informed the Council so that they had all the facts to make an informed decision. It was a great result, for which I thank you most sincerely.
    Ann

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