Independent NSW MP Justin Field has called on NSW MPs to back legislation to establish a moratorium on coal seam gas after confirmation NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes has moved to refer the controversial Santos Narrabri Gas Project to the State’s Independent Planning Commission.
The referral of the controversial Narrabri Gas Project to the IPC comes just two weeks after a Parliamentary Inquiry found deep flaws in the State’s regulatory regime for gas exploration which the NSW Government is yet to respond to. The inquiry found just 2 of the 16 recommendations of the Chief Scientist had been implemented.
Environment Minister, Matt Kean told a budget estimates hearing last week that the Narrabri Gas Project should not get a licence to operate unless the Government had implemented all the Chief Scientist’s recommendations:
Matt Kean: “My view is that the Government should implement all those recommendations before granting the licence to allow any drilling for coal seam gas anywhere."
Mr Field said, “The Government has had 5 years to fix this and they’ve failed. It's time for the Parliament to act and I’ll be pushing for the Coal Seam Gas Moratorium BIll to be debated in the March sitting of Parliament to press pause on this industry.
“I’ve got a Coal Seam Gas Moratorium Bill on the books which can be debated and passed in the next two sitting weeks. The Government’s rushed referral of the project to the IPC before they have even responded to the damning inquiry findings shows they are putting the interests of Santos ahead of the community.”
Just last week the NSW Country Women’s Association called on the NSW Government to take steps to end the Narrabri Gas Project.
Mr Field said, “passing a Coal Seam Gas Moratorium Bill through the NSW Upper House will be a demonstration that a broad cross section of the community oppose this industry and will put immense pressure on the Nationals in the Lower House to back the Bill. Who are they backing? Santos, or regional communities, farmers and water.
“This is a real test for the Nationals and leader John Barilaro as NSW Resources Minister. The Nationals have hung their hat on the NSW Gas Plan as a way to protect farmers and regional NSW, but the recent Parliamentary Inquiry has shown that plan to be full of holes and a fraud.
“Recent research has shown carbon emissions from gas development is much larger than previously claimed by the industry and the head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission recently slammed gas companies Australia for misleading Government and the public about its benefits while increasing the cost of gas in the domestic market and destroying manufacturing.
“The Narrabri project should not go ahead. The clearest way to address the risks of this industry is now with clear legislative action to put a moratorium on the industry.
“It’s time the Nationals stood up for farmers and regional NSW on this issue and supported a CSG moratorium and pushed for the Narrabri Project to be rejected.