VFF: Ban a win for in­dus­try

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Ag Life -

Vic­to­ria’s peak farmer group has praised both the State Gov­ern­ment and Op­po­si­tion for putting the in­ter­ests of land­hold­ers above pol­i­tics by not risk­ing prime agri­cul­tural re­sources for short-term gains by gas and min­ing com­pa­nies.

The gov­ern­ment’s Re­sources Leg­is­la­tion Amend­ment – Frack­ing Ban – Bill 2016 is widely ex­pected to pass Par­lia­ment with cross-party sup­port. It would see a per­ma­nent ban on the ex­plo­ration and devel­op­ment of all on­shore un­con­ven­tional gas in Vic­to­ria and a five-year ex­ten­sion on the ban on con­ven­tional on­shore gas devel­op­ment.

Vic­to­rian Farm­ers Fed­er­a­tion wel­comed the move as a vic­tory for farm­ers af­ter last year prais­ing the gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to en­sur­ing farm land was pro­tected from gas ex­plo­ration un­til more re­search into po­ten­tial im­pacts had been done.

“This is a great out­come for our farm­ers be­cause the true en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact of on­shore gas min­ing is still un­known,” VFF pres­i­dent David Jochinke said.

“Agri­cul­ture is a vi­tal re­source in Vic­to­ria, so it’s a re­lief to know that both sides recog­nise the im­por­tance of agri­cul­ture to our state’s fu­ture.

“Vic­to­ria has pre­cious ground­wa­ter re­serves, and with­out hard sci­en­tific ev­i­dence that shows the risks of on­shore gas devel­op­ment can be prop­erly man­aged, those re­serves shouldn’t be put at risk.”

A VFF sur­vey showed mem­bers’ great­est con­cern was the po­ten­tial for cross-con­tam­i­na­tion of aquifers as a re­sult of drilling for gas, while oth­ers feared it would cause fi­nan­cial or en­vi­ron­men­tal harm.

Mr Jochinke said the VFF hoped this was the first step to­wards the gov­ern­ment giv­ing farm­ers the right to say no to min­ing pro­pos­als on their land.

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