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Coal Seam Gas

Rob Oakeshott's coal seam gas press releases
2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010
Water Trigger - Gloucester BioRegion - Hunter Valley health

2011 Coal Seam Gas


16 December 2011 - INDEPENDENT MP for Lyne Robert Oakeshott today welcomed AGL’s decision to defer its drilling program, south of Gloucester, to allow community consultation to occur.

“AGL has given an undertaking to defer drilling until an independent, peer-reviewed water study has been completed and the results made public,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“It also will await the ruling of a Land and Environment court review of the coal-seam gas project’s approval.

"This is a sensible move by AGL, and I thank them for wanting to work with the community,” Mr Oakeshott said.



7 December 2011 - INDEPENDENT Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott is urging AGL to reconsider its drilling operations near Gloucester amid growing community concern that has resulted in a blockade at Forbesdale.

“I’m asking AGL to consider the impact its activities are having on the Gloucester community, particularly in the lead-up to Christmas, and delay their drilling until the Land and Environment Court hands down its ruling in the new year,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“The delay would have no impact on AGL’s long-term ambitions for the Gloucester basin, if the court supports their approval, but it would carry a lot of weight with a community that simply wants to know if coal-seam gas drilling is likely to affect their ground and surface water.

“It’s not an unreasonable ask, especially as we are heading into the holiday period when many companies close over Christmas-New Year.

“The concerns of the Gloucester community are not unique. There are communities throughout New South Wales and Queensland who are worried about the impact of coal-seam gas extraction on the environment, productive farm lands and on water supplies in particular.

“Those concerns have been echoed by the Commonwealth which has agreed to set aside $150 million to establish an independent, expert scientific committee to research and assess coal-seam gas projects.

“A Senate report last week also highlighted environmental and hydrological concerns associated with coal-seam gas and only this week the NSW Government extended its fracking moratorium.

“There are some serious question marks over coal-seam gas, and mining companies who want to be seen as responsible corporate citizens would do well to act with caution in the short-term if they want long-term community support,” Mr Oakeshott said.


21 November 2011 - INDEPENDENT MPs Robert Oakeshott and Tony Windsor have secured tighter regulation and control of coal-seam gas mining.

The Member for Lyne said the federal government had agreed, during negotiations on the mining tax, to a strong national regulatory framework to assess the impacts of coal-seam gas on groundwater, productive farmlands, water catchment authorities and communities.

“The government has agreed to a national partnership with the states to urgently address the community’s concerns about the impact of coal-seam gas and large-scale coal mining on productive lands,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“I particularly thank the communities of the Manning Valley and the Gloucester Valley for their hard work on these issues.”

The Commonwealth has agreed to establish an Independent Expert Scientific Committee at a cost of $150 million over four years.

The committee will be responsible for providing public advice on, and reviews of, coal-seam gas-related state and Commonwealth assessments and approvals. It will be required to assess regional, cumulative and project-specific impacts on water resources, and will commission and coordinate research to inform the assessment and management of coal-seam gas projects.

“The national regulatory framework for assessments will provide the rigorous research, advice and assessments that communities throughout Australia have been calling for,” Mr Oakeshott said.

The creation of a new authority on coal-seam gas is one of several issues addressed during Mr Oakeshott’s negotiations with the government on the eight Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) and Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (PRRT) bills, to be introduced to Parliament this week.

Mr Oakeshott said he would support the introduction of a national, profits-based, efficient mining and petroleum resource rent tax, first proposed as part of the Henry Tax Review in 2010.

“This engages the states in a process of tax simplification through the GST review, and will address the disincentives in the Commonwealth Grants Commission process that led to conflict between the States and Commonwealth on tax reform,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“As well, announced today, I welcome the government taking the opportunity to start work on linking policy in food, water and soil, which will make 2012 the year where integrated national policy leads to better integrated policy outcomes.

“This is not a new tax on top of many others. This vote allows a tax on low-income superannuation to be removed, the small business tax write-off to be lifted 600 per cent, and company tax and personal income tax to be reduced.

“These are the benefits of backing efficient taxation over inefficient taxation, and I continue to stay consistent in my support of the work done by Ken Henry and others throughout 2009 and 2010,” Mr Oakeshott said.



11 November 2011 - INDEPENDENT Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott says the National Party’s absence during a Senate vote on its own coal-seam gas policy is inexplicable.

“At the start of the week, the National Party belatedly outlined its blueprint for coal-seam gas development in Australia,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“It’s very first principle was: No coal-seam gas development should proceed where it poses a significant impact to the quality of groundwater or surface water systems. It must be absolutely clear that no coal-seam gas development should occur unless it is proven safe for the environment.

“Seventy-two hours later, the Nationals’ core principle, word for word, was put to the Senate and was voted down by the Liberal Party and the Labor Party.

“Worse still, the five National Party senators failed to show.

“The community has every right to ask how serious is the National Party on resolving the land management conflict between farmers and miners when they couldn’t be bothered to even turn up to vote for their own policy.

“An awful lot of waxing seems to have occurred since the hairy-chested position of the party’s federal leader just three days earlier.

“This would be a first in Australian politics - where a political party has failed to vote for their own policy announcement of the same week,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“Actions certainly speak louder than words in politics, and the Nationals’ absence in Parliament is not lost on the communities of the Manning Valley, the Camden Haven and the Gloucester Basin.”



17 October 2011 - INDEPENDENT Lyne MP Robert Oakeshott says the National Party must come clean on its coal seam gas stance in the Camden Haven, Manning and Gloucester valleys.

Mr Oakeshott said he was concerned that a local community action group, the Barrington-Gloucester-Stroud Preservation Alliance, would not be allowed to give evidence at the NSW Legislative Council Inquiry into CSG in Taree on October 31.

“There are state National Party MPs who were very recently elected talking up their concerns about coal seam gas, and their belief in community,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“Well, here is the chance for Leslie Williams, Steve Bromhead and George Souris to actually do something that meets those commitments.

“Post-election, they did not make submissions to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry, when they should have, and now they seem to be denying a local community group the chance to present to that inquiry.”

Mr Oakeshott said he was concerned the NSW Government’s economic strategy, as outlined in its state plan, was to increase the value of mining production in NSW by 30 per cent by 2020 and to ‘attract petroleum and mineral exploration investment in under-explored areas of NSW’.

“The emerging question for the National Party MPs is, ‘are you going to put your community first, or are you going to put your political party first?’ ” Mr Oakeshott said.



06 October 2011 - INDEPENDENT Member for Lyne Rob Oakeshott has welcomed the federal government’s decision to further scrutinise a coal-seam gas project in the Gloucester basin.
“Environment Minister Tony Burke has extended the assessment period for AGL’s project for a further six months until March 29 next year,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“The decision is welcome news for the Gloucester community, and for those who live downstream in the Manning Valley.

“If coal-seam gas drilling presents any risk to our water supply or to key farming lands, we need to know. The best way to do that is to conduct thorough hydrological assessments,” he said.

Mr Oakeshott called for Commonwealth intervention in March after the NSW Government hurriedly approved the drilling of 110 coal-seam gas wells without consulting with the water supply authority, MidCoast Water, or with 50,000 downstream water users in the Manning Valley.

The Lyne MP also helped fellow Independent Tony Windsor introduce legislation earlier this month that, if supported by the major political parties, would further protect water resources from mining activities.

“We are witnessing unprecedented investment and exploration from the resource sector, but that enthusiasm should not threaten the amenity of communities such as Gloucester or risk the long-term viability of productive farm lands and clean water supplies,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“The Minister’s decision to extend the assessment timeframe by six months is a significant win for our community, and I congratulate everyone involved in helping to highlight our community’s legitimate concerns about the potential impacts of coal-seam gas drilling.”




24 March 2011 - INDEPENDENT MP for Lyne Robert Oakeshott today called for Commonwealth intervention over the recent decision by the NSW Government to approve 110 coal seam gas wells in the Gloucester Basin.

During Parliamentary Question Time, Mr Oakeshott asked the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Tony Burke, to undertake a full review of the approval, including comprehensive risk assessments and consultation.

“The NSW State Government, in breach of at least the spirit of caretaker conventions, has approved drilling of 110 coal seam gas wells in the Gloucester Basin, covering an area of fifty square kilometres including the pristine Barrington region and key farming land throughout the Gloucester and Upper Hunter area,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“This approval was done without any consultation with the water supply authority MidCoast Water, nor with downstream water users in the Manning Valley, where more than 50,000 residents reliant on clean drinking water are now in shock at this decision being taken only weeks before a state election.

“Will the Minister therefore review this decision, ensuring full consultation with MidCoast Water and the downstream water users in the Manning Valley and more comprehensive risk assessments associated with this drilling, as well as detailed consultation with an incoming NSW Government, which should not have its hands tied on this issue.”

Mr Burke acknowledged the high level of community concern over the issue and said he was expecting a briefing from the relevant Commonwealth department shortly, including the identification of certain threatened species that may impact on any Commonwealth decision in the near future.



17 March 2011 - THE NSW Government’s reported failure to consult MidCoast Water and downstream water users in the Manning prior to approving 110 gas wells in the Gloucester Basin is cause enough for the decision to be reviewed, Independent MP for Lyne Robert Oakeshott said today.

Mr Oakeshott said the approved wells marked the first stage of AGL’s coal seam gas project near Gloucester, with a further 220 wells proposed for subsequent stages.

“For this decision to have been made by the NSW Government without even asking MidCoast Water to the table simply beggars belief,” Mr Oakeshott said.

Mr Oakeshott also questioned the timing of the government’s decision, which was made in the shadows of its administration, just prior to moving into caretaker mode.

“If this was not a legal breach of the caretaker conventions, then it was certainly a breach of the spirit of those conventions to push through such a significant decision at the 11th hour,” he said.

“One of the keys of caretaker mode is that no significant decisions are made by the public service out of respect for any incoming government.

“This decision fails that test and is therefore open to challenge.”

Mr Oakeshott said he was aiming to attend the ‘Lock the Gate Alliance’ rally in Sydney this Sunday to join residents from the Gloucester and Manning areas concerned about the future of their agricultural land and water supply.

“This rally is looming as an important event in the grassroots campaign for more sustainable land use and environmental outcomes and I am pleased that our region will be well represented,” he said.

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