On Tuesday 29th November the South Australian government’s Natural Resources Committee released their final report in to Fracking in the South East of South Australia. The Committee commenced this inquiry in November 2014 and have taken two years to release the 125 page report.
Presiding Member Hon Steph Key MP announced “After review of all evidence and additional research, the committee has reached the position that social licence does not yet exist for the development of an unconventional gas industry in the South East. This has been made starkly apparent by widespread opposition from the local community and is is the overarching finding of the inquiry.
“This is not to say unconventional gas exploration and development should never occur in the region but, in the committee’s view, obtaining social licence is a necessary precondition to such development occurring”, Ms Key said.
The Committee made four further recommendations which covered the threat to water, a review of the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000, the potential for disruption to landscape and local community, and the necessity for a definitive proposal before any further consideration could be given to economic benefits.
The Committee concluded that “the window of opportunity for a South East South Australian unconventional gas industry may already be closed. This may change, depending on future events in the international market.”
To read the complete media release which includes the five recommendations as well as the 125 page NRC Committee’s report go to
Shortly after this announcement, Liberal Opposition Leader Stephen Marshall announced that, should the Liberal party attain government in the March 2018 State election, they would immediately impose a ten year moratorium on unconventional gas exploration and extraction in the South East.
The same afternoon Minister Tom Koutsantonis, Treasurer and Minister for Finance, Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy and Minister for State Development, unleashed a tirade of abuse towards the Liberal Party.
In answer to a question from the Hon Tom Kenyon, Government Whip “My question is to the Minister for Mineral Resources development. Will the government entertain a moratorium on unconventional gas exploration?” Tom Koutsantonis replied “ No, we won’t. I have seen in dispatches that members opposite are proposing a moratorium for a decade on unconventional gas exploration in the South-East. That is a devastating blow, if they are elected, to investment in this state’s oil and gas industry.
“Members opposite have put at risk one of the largest employers in this state. They have put at risk Santos. They have put at risk Beach Energy. At a time when they are vulnerable with low oil prices and high debt, they have put South Australian iconic companies at risk, and they shake their heads because they don’t understand. They do not understand the damage they have just done to the oil and gas sector in South Australia.
“First, he has shown his credentials on having a debate on the nuclear industry; now he has shown his credentials on the oil and gas sector. The Liberal Party have been taken hostage by a left green wing ideologue. They no longer represent the interests of business. They no longer represent the interests of shareholders.
“It is interesting to note that Beach Energy and Santos’s largest shareholdings are from mum-and-dad investors here in South Australia. What does the Liberal Party say to them? I note that there are members opposite sitting in disgust at what their leader has just done. Silence from the member for Hartley, from the member for whatever your seat is called. I won’t speak to the fallen chests and the long faces at what is another blow to the prestige of a once proud party. I say once again to the younger members of the Liberal Party: retake your party and retake your heritage; don’t allow it to be overtaken by a man who believes in nothing.
“This damage the Liberal Party are about to perpetrate on these companies should be reconsidered and reconsidered immediately. The Liberal Party should immediately convene a caucus meeting, overturn this decision and reinstate. There is no recommendation calling for a moratorium on oil and gas. There were members of the Liberal Party on this review and they didn’t recommend a moratorium. I have to say this is a very sad turn of events for the oil and gas sector in South Australia.
“We were a beacon to the industry after what is occurring in New South Wales and Victoria. It wasn’t a partisan issue here in South Australia, but members opposite have just made it one and they have done immense damage to this state’s reputation as an investment jurisdiction.”
Not once has Koutsantonis referred to or deferred to any of the recommendations of the committee or to the people of the Limestone Coast who would be affected by gasfields in their region. He states that the Liberal party “have put at risk Santos. Have put at risk Beach Energy”. He does not even consider that gasfields in the South East will put at risk the health and livelihood of thousands of people and the food bowl of South Australia.
We must keep in mind that under the present Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000 Minister Koutsantonis has the final say and can ignore or overturn any recommendations put to him. From his statements to Parliament last week it seems most likely that he will.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Read the NRC committee media release – Media Release NRC fracking report tabled 291116
and the full report www.parliament.sa.gov.au/Committees/Pages/Committees.aspx?CTId=5&CId=295
Write letters to Ministers Koutsantonis; the Minister for Agriculture, Food, and Fisheries; Tourism, Honourable Leon Bignell; the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation; Water and the River Murray, Honourable Ian Hunter and the Premier Honourable Jay Weatherill to continue to tell them you do not want gasfields in the South East.
Send copies of your letters to your local media and to your local member. For contact details for these members, or any members in our State government click here for the SA Politicians2