Australian Senate to investigate unconventional gas

Australia on Globe

Queensland senator Glenn Lazarus has won support for the setting up of a new Senate committee to investigate the human impacts of unconventional gas. The wide ranged inquiry, which will be chaired by Senator Lazarus and is due to report it’s findings in June next year, will look at the various impacts and issues linked to coal seam gas (CSG) and shale gas mining in Australia.

In addition to the health, social, business, agricultural, environmental, landholder and economic impacts of unconventional gas mining, the inquiry will also look at compensation and insurance arrangements as well as the harmonisation of Federal and State legislation.

Whilst the Federal Government claims that mining issues are matters for state governments, and that it cannot interfere, Senator Lazarus said it would give people in areas affected by mining a chance to voice their concerns.

“The one thing I keep hearing is that they’re so frustrated no one’s listening to them,” he said.

“I’d be looking at getting some sort of national ruling on this because it does affect nearly every state in Australia, you can’t just have rules for each state.”

However, Nationals senator Matthew Canavan said the issues outlined in the motion were largely ones for State governments to address and feared that the inquiry would be established in a way that prevented the “fair reflection” of all views in the Senate chamber.

“The motion provides for just one Coalition Senator out of five members, despite the Coalition representing more than two in every five members of this chamber,” he said.

“It also establishes another Select Committee, when there is no reason why this inquiry could not usefully be sent to a Standing References Committee.”

Senator Canavan also pointed out that previous inquiries into CSG had been supported by the Coalition, including one chaired by NSW Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan in 2011, from which some recommendations “actually ended up in law”.

Senator Lazarus’ motion:
That a select committee, to be known as the Select Committee on Unconventional Gas Mining, be established to inquire into and report on or before 30 June 2016, on the following matter:

The adequacy of Australia’s legislative, regulatory and policy framework for unconventional gas mining including coal seam gas (CSG) and shale gas mining, with reference to:

  • a national approach to the conduct of unconventional gas mining in Australia
  • the health, social, business, agricultural, environmental, landholder and economic impacts of unconventional gas mining
  • government and non-Government services and assistance for those affected
  • compensation and insurance arrangements
  • compliance and penalty arrangements
  • harmonisation of federal and state/territory government legislation, regulations and policies
  • legislative and regulatory frameworks for unconventional gas mining in comparable overseas jurisdictions
  • the unconventional gas industry in Australia as an energy provider
  • The current royalty and taxation arrangements associated with unconventional gas mining
  • any related matter

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