Nationals Member for Benalla, Bill Sykes in Parliament this week spoke in support of the Victorian Coalition Government’s Resources Legislation Amendment (BTEX Prohibition and other matters) Bill 2014.
The main purpose of the Bill is to implement a statutory framework restricting the use of BTEX compounds in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Victoria.
Dr Sykes said, “This Bill addresses the use of dangerous chemicals in fracking operations. They are referred to as BTEX – that is benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.
“There are examples, particularly in the past, where fracking used dangerous chemicals in dangerous quantities, and that was inappropriate.”
Dr Sykes said that the Bill supports other measures already put in place by the Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government in relation to coal seam gas exploration and mining in Victoria.
“In 2012 the Victorian Coalition Government announced a hold on approvals, until at least July 2015, to undertake hydraulic fracturing as part of onshore gas exploration and a hold on new exploration licences until national regulatory frameworks were finalised.
“Unlike Labor, which allocated 73 licences for coal seam, shale and tight gas exploration and approved 23 fracking operations without any community consultation, we are engaging with the community and listening to community concerns and seeking to make sure that information is provided for those community concerns to be addressed and further debated.
“I think it is absolutely critical that we understand the risks involved, which primarily relate to the potential impacts on water quality and quantity.
“In spite of what Labor says, independent facilitators are getting out and about and listening to community concerns and taking them on board.
“They are not ramming down their throats what we think the answers are but listening to community concerns with the overall intention being to ensure informed decision making involving the community.”
Dr Sykes highlighted a brief visit to south east Queensland to view coal seam gas mining first hand.
“In Queensland, under many years of Labor government, exploration and mining activities proceeded with few controls and I am pleased to see that under a Liberal-Nationals Government there are now checks and balances in place.
“It is important that in Victoria we understand and protect our valuable underground resource.
“The Victorian Coalition Government is acting responsibly. We have applied a moratorium on exploration and mining, we are seeking to understand what is happening with our underground water supplies, we are undertaking community consultation and we are putting this piece of legislation in place which protects against the misuse of chemicals that are known to be dangerous in excessive quantities.”
For more information on onshore gas visit www.naturalgasinfo.vic.gov.au.