Bell slams Labor Party call to overturn fracking ban

Tuesday November 12, 2019

The Border Watch - Charlotte Varcoe

FIGHTING FOR FRACKING BAN: Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell says he will continue to ensure the 10-year fracking moratorium will remain in place for the Limestone Coast despite Opposition comments.

 

MEMBER for Mount Gambier Troy Bell has blasted comments made by the Labor Party to overturn the 10-year ban on fracking in the region as “arrogant” and “displaying disrespect towards the Limestone Coast community”.

The state opposition has renewed calls to axe the moratorium, with opposition mining spokesperson Tom Koutsantonis telling The Australian the government has “chosen populism over science”.

However, Mr Bell said he will continue to ensure the decadelong ban remains in place “as long as I hold the seat of Mount Gambier”.

The bill to enshrine the ban passed parliament last year with the full support of the Liberal Party and crossbenchers Greens and SA-Best.

Labor voted against the bill in both house of parliament.

“Only five months ago the Labor Listens tour was in Mount Gambier,” Mr Bell said.

“Well it’s clear they are not listening to the Limestone Coast.

“It shows that Labor cannot be trusted to uphold the 10-year ban and our community needs to remember this at the next election.”

Following a community campaign, the independent MP successfully legislated the 10-year fracking ban in 2018.

Mr Bell said comments made by Mr Koutsantonis last week in relation to the moratorium demonstrated a limited understanding of the parliamentary process.

“Any changes to the ban, or the area that it covers, would need to pass both houses of parliament,” he said.

“The people of the Limestone Coast deserve better than an opposition that does not listen to them and also, does not understand the significance of protecting our underground water and rich agricultural assets.”

Shadow Forestry Minister and Limestone Coast resident Clare Scriven supported Mr Koutsantonis and said Labor’s opposition to the moratorium was based on science.

“It is the right mechanism to make decisions on fracture stimulation, not politicians,” she said.

“This is the reason we have opposed a ban.”

Ms Scriven said fracture stimulation did not occur within the region under a Labor State Government.

“This clearly demonstrates that a ban was not needed,” she said.

“The regulators assess the risks and any proposals with significant risks do not get approved - that is as it should be and if the ban were lifted we would not expect there to be fracking in the future.”

Member for MacKillop Nick McBride said the government’s decision to ban the practice respected the wishes of the South East community.

“Currently there is opportunity for gas exploration and production in the South East,” he said.

“Realising the gas potential of the region is currently linked to traditional gas mining operations - the ban on fracking I would suggest - is not a limiting factor.”