Loophole triggers protest

CAMPAIGNERS from conservation group 350.org staged a 30-strong rally outside MP Josh Wilson’s office on Wednesday, calling on the Albanese government to close a loophole that lets some frackers get away without having their impact on water quality regulated federally.

Rally organiser Sally English said at the moment only coal seam gas fracking came under Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

“That’s predominantly eastern states, so we want it to be expanded to shale gas and tight gas, which is what’s in Western Australia and the Northern Territory,” Ms English said.

“At the moment, we’ve got Tambourine Resources doing test fracking in the NT, and Black Mountain has already started doing test fracking in WA.

“So we need that water trigger, and now, so that those projects don’t turn into production before the regulations are in place.”

• Julie, aka Bill the Bilby, was one of the 350.org protestors calling for national reform on fracking. Photo by Steve Grant

Ms English says the fracking is covered by WA’s environmental laws, but they weren’t strong enough to prevent “major consequences”.

“We’ve got toxic chemicals already in the NT and WA, so whatever the state legislation was, that wasn’t enough to stop that contamination,” Ms English said.

“It would just be another assessment, and would be a longer time for more people, like independent experts, to submit evidence saying ‘this isn’t right’.”

Federal environment minister Tanya Plibersek has already flagged amending the EPBC Act in 2024, but in October Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young announced she’d be introducing a private members bill to speed up the process.

Ms English says the 350.org rally was aimed at getting Labor to support Sen Hanson-Young’s bill or move its own earlier.

Julie (otherwise known as Bill the Bilby) was amongst the protestors and said it was part of a push to end fracking once and for all.

“We’ve destroyed the country enough; we actually have to protect the water supply – life without water is non-existence.

“There has been a moratorium in the South West against fracking, but now it’s in the north where it’s fracking in a different way, which opens up more and more networks.


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