South West fracking ban on the cards under Labor pledge

Frack free: Protesters on Forrest Highway during the Water4Life campaign. Photo: Cam Findlay.
Frack free: Protesters on Forrest Highway during the Water4Life campaign. Photo: Cam Findlay.

Labor MPs Mick Murray and Sally Talbot have pledged to a ban on fracking in the state’s South West, pushing for a “frack-free zone” from Mandurah to Albany.

The announcement comes less than a month after the Water4Life campaign, which saw environmental activists and landholders gather to protest fracking around the country, including in Mandurah.

Mr Murray said the South West deserves protection because of its unique qualities, rich agricultural land, tourism and vulnerable underground water resources, including aquifers which supply water to Perth and the outer metro area.

“The South West is regional WA’s most popular tourism destination by a country mile, it produces some of the world’s best food and wine, and our natural forests and waterways are stunning,” Mr Murray said.

“I’m worried about the Yarragadee aquifer, the South West’s largest underground freshwater store.

“It is so important to local fruit and vegetable growers, cattle farmers, the wine industry and communities throughout the region.

“The risks fracking poses to the South West’s agriculture and tourism sectors and the thousands of local jobs they support are too significant to ignore.

“I urge everyone right across the region to join me in my campaign to make the South West a fracking free zone.”

Local environmental organisations have welcomed the move, saying it’s a strong step in protecting WA’s vulnerable biodiversity.

Gasfield Free South West spokesperson Carly Stone said the fracking ban was a good start but residents across the South West wanted a complete no-go zone for industrial gasfields to ensure the South West’s agriculture and tourism industries were not damaged and the health of communities protected.

“This is a welcome move from our two local MPs and we look forward to the state Labor Party taking up this ban as part of their election platform,” Ms Stone said.

“It is a sign of the strength of community concern in the South West that some of our MPs are starting to listen and we urge Nationals and Liberal representatives to do likewise.”

Lock the Gate WA Coordinator Boudicca Cerese said the move should stand as a warning to all political parties in the run-up to the state election that fracking and unconventional gas exploration had become a major issue across the state.

“Marginal seats such as Collie-Preston in the South West will be hotly contested in the March 2017 poll and the various party’s positions on fracking and unconventional gas activities now look likely to play a significant role in election outcomes,” Ms Cerese said.

“In the South West and Mid-West there is mounting pressure on Terry Redman and the Nationals from farmers and landholders who are demanding proper protections for important water resources and the right to veto gas operations on their land.

“WA’s regional communities are demanding action from all political parties to protect our important rural industries and vital water resources and will be looking for solid commitments in the lead up to election.”

Mr Murray is asking South West residents to sign his petition for a fracking ban, which can be found at www.mickmurray.walabor.org.au/nofracking.

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