Senator Ricky Muir meet yesterday with community members from Seaspray and surrounds who have been holding off the expansion of the unconventional gas industry for the past two years.
Farmers, local business owners and local residents from Yarram to The Honeysuckles spent several hours with the senator over scones and tea. One of the main concerns discussed was a community’s right to be exempt from a mining licence if an overwhelming majority of the community do not want gasfields.
The community of Seaspray which carried out a door to door survey in the area in the winter of 2013 found that over 98% of residents did not want an unconventional gasfield in their community.
“We are now just one of 57 communities across Victoria that have declared themselves gasfield free and we like so many others are calling on our new state government to exempt our community and all declared communities from onshore mining licences,” said local business woman Glenda Bunting.
“If there is no 100% guarantee that fracking will not cause damage to the air, water and soil then the risks outweigh the short term benefits. As elected members of Parliament, I would like to remind all politicians that we are elected to represent the will of the people. If 98% of Seaspray residents are opposed, we should listen,” said Senator Muir.
“I support the call to exempt all communities that express concern against unconventional gas mining to be exempt from all existing licences. A community should have the right to veto,” he said.
“The question we have to ask is what future do we see for our state? Gippsland has an opportunity for a future with a thriving agricultural and tourism industry, we need to ensure this is not put at risk by looking at the effect onshore drilling has had on other communities. We are all in this together to protect our water, our farmland, our health and our environment,” said Senator Muir.
“We were glad to see that Ricky shares the same values as us and our right to protect our farmlands, water and the future of farming in Gippsland,” said Seaspray dairy farmer Julie Boulton.