Unconventional gas fracking is set to go ahead in WA, after the state's upper house voted down a motion calling for a moratorium on the controversial gas extraction process on June 20.
The motion had been put to the state's upper house by Greens MLC Alison Xamon. The Liberal, National and Labor parties voted against it and it was lost. The motion called for a moratorium on the emerging industry until a comprehensive and transparent regulatory framework could be developed. “It is highly concerning that this motion has been dismissed by parliament,” Xamon said.
“Especially in light of a recent bipartisan NSW government report into coal seam gas and fracking that recommended a complete ban on fracking until necessary safeguards are put in place. A ban on fracking is already in place in New South Wales.”
Fracking involves drilling into rock formations that contain natural gas and injecting a mixture of water and chemicals at high pressure to crack the rock and allow the gas to escape.
No commercial unconventional gas fracking has taken place in WA yet. More than 10 years of gas fracking in the United States has led water contamination, severe health impacts and greenhouse gas leakage.
Test fracking has already taken place at the Warro gas field, 210 kilometres north-east of Perth, and commercial production is due to start by the end of next year.
Test fracking is due to begin at the Arrowsmith field, 320 kilometres from Perth, next month. Fracking would have begun at the field last year, but objections and appeals against the approval of the tests, and a shortage of rigs for fracking in Australia, has caused repeated delays.
“We're disappointed, but not surprised that Labor joined the Liberals and Nationals to defeat this motion,” said Farida Iqbal, a member of community campaign group No Fracking WAy.
“This just makes us more determined to build the community opposition to unconventional gas fracking, with a protest next week outside a frackers' conference in Perth, and in October as part of a national day of action called by the Lock the Gate Alliance.”