Permanent ban on fracking in Victoria

Media release 8 February 2017:

Victoria’s gas ban a win for environment, farmers and democracy

Today the Lower House of the Victorian parliament is debating the Resources Legislation Amendment (Fracking Ban) Bill 2016, which will permanently ban fracking in the state.

This debate is unusual, because the ALP, Greens, Coalition and minor parties have all announced their support for the ban. “This highlights the massive community opposition to onshore gas drilling in Victoria” said Friends of the Earth co-ordinator Cam Walker.

“This ban has been delivered because of an inspiring and determined community campaign. Over a period of five years, 75 regional communities declared themselves gasfield free. Regional communities refused to accept this destructive industry. Sustained opposition forced the main political parties to shift their position, and led to a state inquiry, which in turn delivered the ban commitment.”

“The Greens supported the ban from day one of this campaign. The ALP held the state inquiry and introduced the legislation. We must acknowledge the leadership of Minister Lily D’Ambrosio on this issue while the ALP was in opposition, the hard work of the Minister for Resources Wade Noonan, and the willingness of the Premier, Daniel Andrews, to listen to the community. A range of MPs from The Greens, ALP, Coalition and Shooters Party put in a huge effort during the state inquiry. And of course this outcome has only happened because of determined, sustained and strategic campaigning by many thousands of people and the 75 gasfield free communities who were the backbone of the opposition to fracking” said Mr Walker.

“This is a wonderful victory for the community, for farmers and the climate. In a time where there is ever greater cynicism about party politics, this shows what is possible when ordinary people get organised and work together for the greater good.”

“It’s an incredible day for so many communities like ours across the state, we have all worked so hard together to get to this point and it feels amazing” said Gayle Margaret, Mirboo North resident.

“Today’s history making legislation to ban unconventional gas and fracking secures my grandchildrens clean, green future in this state and l couldn’t be happier,” said Trevor Jennings, Geelong resident.

“We hope this permanent ban – the first one in Australia – will provide inspiration to other Australian states and territories who are fighting the same battle” said Mr Walker.

Cam Walker, Campaigns co-ordinator, Friends of the Earth

30 August 2016:
In a national first, the Andrews Labor Government today announced a permanent ban on the exploration and development of all onshore unconventional gas in Victoria, including hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) and coal seam gas.

The permanent legislative ban, to be introduced to Parliament later this year, will protect the ‘clean, green’ reputation of Victoria’s agriculture sector, which employs more than 190,000 people. This will provide much-needed certainty to regional communities.

Minister for Resources Wade Noonan confirmed it was visiting communities and seeing the huge impact fracking was having and the potential destruction of agriculture that confirmed for them only a total ban was appropriate. He also said a moratorium on conventional gas would allow proper scientific studies on the potential risks, in particular water pollution risks.

The announcement went global and actors like Mark Ruffalo and Susan Sarandon tweeted about the ban.

We got ourselves organised
This didn’t just happen. This is the result of a tireless effort of hundreds of anti-fracking activists working with determination and as a team. Cam Walker from Friends of the Earth Melbourne wrote: “This outcome happened because ordinary people across the state got themselves organised – and stayed organised. The 75 gasfield free communities were the cornerstone of this campaign.”

So first of all a big thank you to everyone in Geelong and in Victoria who supported the anti-fracking campaign!

It is a great example of how we, the people, the ordinary citizens, can make change and create a better, safer and cleaner world – even at times when we are up against powerful industries that really couldn’t care less about anything else than their own profits.

Thinking the unthinkable
This decision announced today gives hope for many more good things to come. It still won’t happen without us stepping in, though.

If four years ago we hadn’t ‘thought the unthinkable’, things would never have come to this. We would not have seen this fantastic outcome if a group of determined residents had not got themselves organised – and stayed organised.

So it is time for Geelong region to get into thinking some more ‘unthinkable’ thoughts now, like for instance:

• Unthinkable thought #2: Geelong region powered by 100% renewable energy.

• Unthinkable thought #3: All local councils signed onto AND actively following One Planet Living principles.

• Unthinkable thought #4: Hundred of thousands of people signing the #climateemergencydeclaration petition on
– … Feel free to add!

Ten days after Daniel Andrews had announced Victoria’s policy — a first for any Australian state government — he travelled to Moriac, in the South Barwon electorate, to commend those who lobbied for the ban.

» More photos on Facebook

Thank you

Please make an effort to thank Premier Daniel Andrews and Resources Minister Wade Noonan for making this forward thinking and environment protecting decision enacting the ban. For instance, you could retweet Friends of the Earth’s tweet:

or post your own, e.g.:

Thank you @DanielAndrewsMP & @wadenoonan for listening to the community! #VicGasBan announced! Please get onto the Premier’s Facebook page and share his post about the ban and thank him.

Show your support for the ban by writing to the newspapers, commenting on articles – e.g. this one in The Weekly Times – and this one in Geelong Advertiser – and calling in to talk back.

» The Premier’s statement on

» Friends of the Earth Melbourne’s reponse: Communities applaud Premier Andrews decision to ban unconventional gas mining and fracking

Noonan - Marchant
Resource minister Wade Noonan and Alison Marchant

Audio excerpt: Interview with Alison Marchant

11 minute live phone interview with Alison Marchant, Frack Free Moriac, about the new permanent fracking ban in Victoria

“What a day! Victoria is now frack free! It has been a long 3 & a bit years. At the start when we learnt about fracking, we discussed moving. But decided to stay and fight. Sometimes it felt like the world was against us. Sleepless nights and a few tears. But my faith has been restored today. Community banded together and our ripple turned into a wave. Then it was up to convincing the right decision makers. Some more receptive than others. Some listened and some pretended to listen. These MP’s made a stand. They didn’t sit on the barb wire fence.

@DanielAndrewsMP Shaun Leane Lily D’Ambrosio @JaalaPulford @harrietshing @wadenoonan

In addition I haven’t done this alone, family and friends (new and old) have supported me all the way. Damien Marchant speech writer Nomore Coalorgas my partner in crime. Cam Walker ninja! Kristin Morris cheerleader and now tweeter! Sammi Penning and Ian my go-to rocks! And all gasfield free community go-getters. Ursula G Alquier gippsland warrior.

I may be a bit philosophical tonight, but today was momentous. I can now tell the kids, I gave it all, stay and fight for what is right. #vicgasban
Alison Marchant

Alison Marchant’s husband, Damien Marchant wrote on his Facebook page:
“Hi all, I guess I’m feeling a little reflective at the moment.
As you all know Ali and I have been involved in the anti fracking campaign for about 4 years and abit over a week ago we won.
From that the greatest thing that I have taken out this is the importance of community.
Community gives us all a sense of belonging and inclusion. It gives power to our voice, strength to our arguments and most importantly it provides support to each other and assistance to those who need it. I feel honoured and proud to be part of our strong community.
I am also extremely humbled to be married to such a remarkable woman and community builder, Alison Marchant. To tell you I love you never seems to even scratch the surface of my emotions for you, thankyou for being you. Whoever knows you cannot help but love you.”

“This is a testament to the power of determined, creative, respectful community-driven activism. Years of it. Stand down tireless warriors Chloe, Ursula G Alquier, Cam Walker, Nicola Paris, Quit Coal crew and the countless numbers of people in threatened communities who stood up to insidious industry pressure. What a fully shining example you’ve set for a powerfully growing global movement.”
Deborah Hart

Speeches in the Victorian Parliament can be found from page 41 of Hansard and then again from page 69.

Good to have a read through and to send messages of thanks to those who spoke in its favour!

The Premier’s address on 8 February 2017:

“I am delighted to rise to speak on this important piece of legislation today. I could not be prouder than to lead a government that is putting before this house and indeed the other place — this Parliament — a law to protect our clean, green image, a law to protect our primary producers, our farmers, our exporters, a law to protect our good name and good standing in international markets right across the world, a law to protect jobs, investment and confidence.

But today is not a day for the politicians to be taking credit, although I am sure some opposite will tell you that they were the architects of this bill, that all good things can be traced back to those opposite if only you spend long enough doing that tracing. This is not a day for politicians to be taking credit. This victory — and that is what it is — is a victory for common sense. It is a victory for jobs right throughout Victoria. It is a victory for farmers, for environmentalists, for activists, for ordinary Victorians. It is their victory because they said, ‘We will not stand for being ignored any longer. We want what we value protected. We want what every Victorian should value protected, and we want our voice heard’, and that is exactly what we delivered.

Whether it be farmers and environmentalists from the Otways, from Gippsland, from every part of our state, and not just from regional Victoria— as beautiful and important as regional Victoria is to the soul of our state, the production and economy of our state, our story and our meaning and purpose for the future— many people in metropolitan Melbourne have been just as passionate about these issues.

What they have said to me and what my government has said is that there is no splitting the environment and the economy when it comes to these issues. There is no splitting those two things because they are the same thing, and if you are prepared to compromise safety, certainty, our image, the health of our communities, the health of our natural environment, then you will pay a very significant economic price. It is not one that I am prepared to pay. It is not one that regional communities are prepared to pay. It is not one that this government is prepared to pay.

Others have a different view, and when they take a break from trying to claim credit for things they had nothing to do with, they turn around and start bagging those very same things they pretend to have actually delivered. That is not leadership; that is fraud. That is what that is. It is fraud, but the problem for those who operate in that way is that it is all too obvious. Chief among that list are people who would say they are great listeners, they are great people who support primary production, who support the environment, people who used to get around with a leather jacket on, used to get around with a conscience, used to get around with a ‘Don’t you know, you’d better watch out for me, because I’m right in the middle and I’m going to deal with all the truisms of politics. I can bring appeal from everywhere’. That thesis is not going so well at the moment.

Chief among those who just do not get it on this issue are the Prime Minister and his energy minister, Mr Frydenberg, because they are out there today saying that this legislation to ban unconventional gas extraction for all of our state now and forever is somehow wrong and that we should be ashamed of ourselves, that it is the wrong thing to do.

I will say to all members assembled here and for Hansard for all time that if anyone in the coalition, state or federal, is in any doubt about the community’s views on this issue, I am happy to take them to one farm after another, to one community after another, to one family after another, and hopefully they will hear the message that I have heard — that is, that this precious environment, our precious economy, all that we should cherish and hold dear are not worth gambling with. They are not worth risking, and they are certainly not worth trashing by putting up dangerous wells wherever you can see.

We are having none of that. We are having none of that in our state, and some can sit smugly thinking that they can walk both sides of the street on this issue.
No, you cannot. There might be some who will have three positions. They will say it was their work, when of course it was not. They will bag it simultaneously, and then they will cleverly just wave it through the Parliament thinking that will allow their rampant hypocrisy to go unnoticed.

Well, no, I am afraid we are onto you, and so is the community. The fact of the matter in the history of this state, once this bill passes this place and the other, is that it is a Labor government that has delivered this outcome, a Labor government that has listened to communities and a Labor government that proudly says, ‘Do not take your time to thank us’. No, thank the communities who have fought for this outcome. Thank the communities who said, ‘We will be ignored no longer. A moratorium? Not good enough. We want certainty. We deserve it, and we want a government that will deliver that’.

They are the people that should be congratulated. They are the people who should be so very proud as they listen to this debate today and in the days to come.

I want to thank my honourable friends the Minister for Industry and Employment and Minister for Resources, and the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change — the first time we have ever seen those portfolios combined, and what a great job she is doing in relation to those matters— and every member of our team that has made sure they played their part as champions for their local community and in making sure that I understood.

Little did they know that I was getting plenty of representations from lots of good people without the representations they were making, but everyone did their job to make sure that we understood that this was a change that had to be made.

Too much was at stake to allow this to go on, and I just say thank you to everybody in the government for the work that they have done and to the department. The consultations have been unprecedented.

Again, he is not here to defend himself, but I will make the point that we did not go and get a certain former federal minister, not well known for consultation, to go out and run a sham consultation. We did it properly. We did not get Balaclava Pete to come out and do the sort of consultation that only he could do. We did not do that”
Daniel Andrews

Mr M.O’Brien interjected.

Mr ANDREWS — “Well, are you for this or against it? That is a question for you.”

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — “Order! Government members will come to order.”

Mr ANDREWS — “Are you for it or against it? That is the question for you, my friend. You can keep interjecting all you want, but my microphone is on and yours is not, so keep it up.”

“The question for you is: are you for this or against it, or are you sitting there pretty well on your own as you are?”

Mr M.O’Brien interjected.

Mr ANDREWS — “There will be a vote, will there? There will be a vote apparently. I sincerely hope so.”

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — “Order! Government members will come to order, and the Premier will continue through the Chair.”

Mr ANDREWS — “If there is a vote, we will be able to see who is actually for and against protecting our environment, who is for and against protecting our economy and who is for and against listening to our communities and acting in their interest and who, quite frankly, is all over the shop and a disgrace. We will be able to see that. There are no members of the National Party here.”

Mr McGuire interjected.

The SPEAKER — “Order! The member for Broadmeadows will resume his seat.”

Mr ANDREWS — “Interesting. Others can judge those who are serious about these matters and those who are frankly frauds when it comes these matters. I will leave it to the good judgement particularly of regional Victorians. They can pick someone who might qualify as a fraud a long way off. I can tell you that. I think it is fair to say they see those opposite coming. The final point… ”

Mr M.O’Brien interjected.

The SPEAKER— Order! The member for Malvern will come to order.

Mr ANDREWS — “‘Sunshine’, he is calling me. Mate, there would be no sunshine if it was up to you. Heaven knows where we would be. I am very proud to have you interject on me. I am very proud to have the member for Malvern opposed to me, because I reckon if the member for Malvern is against it, it is probably a good thing. They do not come any better than this bill, and I urge all members to support its urgent passage.”

The bill is expected to pass unamended.

Media release from Wad
Media release from minister Wade Noonan

Fracking ‘politisised’

Media release from Victorian recourse minister Wade Noonan on 31 August 2016:

After years of Coalition inaction, indecision and infighting on onshore gas in Victoria, the deep split between the Liberals and the Nationals is once again on show following yesterday’s historic announcement by the Andrews Labor Government.

In a national first, the Labor Government is introducing a permanent ban on the exploration and development of all onshore unconventional gas in Victoria to provide much needed certainty for regional communities.
The Liberals were quick off the mark to criticise the announcement for “shutting the door on future exploration of conventional gas,” despite their previous policy of a moratorium until 2020.
That’s a clear sign the Liberals are making policy on the run and renouncing their own policies.
Meanwhile, in a short statement not published online, the Nationals leader Peter Walsh was busy trying to claim credit: “Daniel Andrews has followed The Nationals’ lead in announcing a permanent ban on unconventional gas, including fracking and CSG activity, in Victoria.”
In fact, the Nationals had signed up to the 2020 moratorium, not a ban on fracking.
These conflicting statements speak volumes about the deep divide between the Nationals and the Liberals on one of the biggest issues affecting regional Victoria.
Will the Nationals stand up for country Victoria, or will they support the Liberals calls for more uncertainty, indecision and inaction?
It is clear that the Victorian community has spoken – they simply don’t support fracking.
The Labor Government is calling on the Nationals to stand up for country Victoria and declare their support for legislation that will be introduced into Parliament later this year.”

Read also

» Geelong Advertiser – 9 September 2016:
Premier Daniel Andrews hails Victoria’s fracking ban a win for people power

» Weekly Times – 9 September 2016:
Delayed celebration for Victorian gas ban as Daniel Andrews meets anti-gas groups

» Counteract – 30 August 2016:
6 things that won the #VicGasBan

» Weekly Times – 30 August 2016:
Victoria bans unconventional gas mining forever

Pleased to say that this is probably the last post you will see from Frack Free Geelong.