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I will protect you: Ryan

DEPUTY Premier Peter Ryan has given his strongest assurance yet the coal seam gas (CSG) industry would not be developed in Victoria unless there is no environmental risk.
The Gippsland South MLA’s pledge came as the State Government expects to receive within weeks a report into issues with the eastern Australia gas market and ways of increasing gas supplies in Victoria.
That report will be produced by a taskforce chaired by former federal Howard Government minister Peter Reith.
Mirboo North residents last Wednesday urged South Gippsland Shire Council to reaffirm its opposition to the CSG and coal mining industries in the shire.
“We will not be rushed in relation to this. We are conscious we enjoy many natural assets throughout the regions of Victoria, particularly in South Gippsland, and never would we allow anything to be done to put that at risk,” Mr Ryan said.
He said water assets were “absolutely critical” and prime production land was “one of the foundations of our community and economy”.
“We are not going to risk any of that in favour of any initiative, whatever that may be,” Mr Ryan said.
He said the government would consider the Reith report before responding publicly.
“We will see what the Reith report has to say but first and foremost we will continue to guard jealously that which we already have,” Mr Ryan said.
The government may have moved the Energy and Resources portfolio to under the umbrella of the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation, but Mr Ryan said that did not signal a nod to the advancement of coal seam gas.
“The main reason was to bring to the one area those industries which are the job creators and the industry development portfolios, so we are all now gathered under the one roof,” he said.
The State Government is not looking to CSG to fill the void in Victoria’s gas supply once ExxonMobil’s Kipper Tuna Turrum Project in Bass Strait – announced last week – expires.
Richard Owen, chairman of ExxonMobil Australia, said the project holds enough energy to power a city of a million people for 35 years.
Mr Ryan said: “We still don’t know whether we have got any (CSG). There are seven wells being drilled over the next 18 months that will start to give an indication of what is there.
“There is no rush so let’s just do what we are doing. We will make a decision when we are ready, respecting the different points of view.”
Phil Piper of Coal and Coal Seam Gas Mirboo North told council last Wednesday the community was concerned council had weakened its objection to CSG.
“Our shire is a signatory to the Gippsland Food Plan, which has agribusiness exports worth $2 billion and growing, with the dairy sector a key player,” he said.
“This highlights the importance of South Gippsland. This food plan will dovetail with the State Government’s strategy to make Victoria a food bowl to Asia.
“If there is gas and coal production in these areas, there is no proof the soil, water or air will not be contaminated; therefore the products cannot be guaranteed to be pure.”
Cr Kieran Kennedy said he and council CEO Tim Tamlin continued to share council’s objections to the industry with state and federal politicians, to protect the shire’s agricultural land and tourism industry.
Council’s director of development services Phil Stone said council unanimously passed a motion on May 23, 2012, citing its concerns about CSG and that motion still applied.
Mr Piper asked council to post its CSG policy on its website, as had Bass Coast Shire.

Pushing on: Phil Piper (left) of Coal and Coal Seam Gas Mirboo North was supported by Ron Wangman, Suzanne Wightman, Marg Thomas, Joy Downes and Gayle Margaret at last Wednesday’s South Gippsland Shire Council meeting.

Pushing on: Phil Piper (left) of Coal and Coal Seam Gas Mirboo North was supported by Ron Wangman, Suzanne Wightman, Marg Thomas, Joy Downes and Gayle Margaret at last Wednesday’s South Gippsland Shire Council meeting.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=9160

Posted by on Oct 29 2013. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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