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Parliamentary inquiry recommendations for fracking in WA mostly window dressing

NOVEMBER 17, 2015: The Frack Free Mid West Gascoyne Alliance has warned that the recommendations of the parliamentary inquiry into fracking in WA were little more than window dressing for an unsafe and unwanted industry.

Spokesperson for the FFMWGA Jo Franklin said the long awaited inquiry findings were disappointing.

“Despite some positive steps the report still fails to properly address the fundamental concerns of landholders in relation to land access, chemical use and water contamination and depletion,” Ms Franklin said.

“Beyond a statutory body ( which has failed to substantially benefit Queensland landholders) landholders need to be given stronger rights to address the power imbalance between companies and farmers, including the right of veto over land access for fracking.

“Whilst we welcome the chemical register and the ban on BTEX chemicals, the report fails to address concerns about a range of other chemicals used in fracking that have never been tested for their toxicity to humans and the environment. 

“Sadly there is no recommendation for exclusion zones to protect important natural areas and vital water resources, which our Mid West communities have been calling for. 

“The recommendations for use of recycled water for fracking are vague and do not suggest making this an obligatory action for companies, ie they appear to be a non-binding suggestion. 

“Whilst noting the potential of cumulative impacts from fracking the report does not address or suggest ways in which such cumulative impacts can be managed or averted. 

“In short, most of the recommendations are simply cosmetic and give an illusion of regulation and oversight, when in fact they are little more than a rubber stamp,” Ms Franklin said.

“The calls for the establishment of a statutory body similar to the Queensland GasFields Commission are particularly suspect given the recent reports of the Qld’s body’s acceptance of gifts from the gas industry including tickets to the football and ballet and to expensive cocktail parties.

“One major industry player is already on the record of having invited the WA parliamentary committee to the company’s headquarters in US! And that was in its pro-fracking public submission to the inquiry.

“We would like to see a truly independent body overseeing any land access agreements that ensured no snouts in any industry troughs.

“And we would like to see the right of veto afforded to landholders.

“There is no mention of a mandatory environmental bond to cover each and every fracking well as protection against the costs of a pollution event and to ensure remediation post fracking, although the inquiry did recommend the setting up of a mining rehabilitation fund.

 “Around the world fracking has resulted in contaminated water sources, increased earthquake activity and impacts on human health.

 “We call on the government to listen to the people of rural WA and to put the protection our health, our water and our productive farmland ahead of the interests of this questionable and unsafe industry.”

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