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Thursday, 5 March 2015
Page: 1380


Senator MADIGAN (Victoria) (17:57): I listened with interest to some of the prior contributions, and I acknowledge Senator Canavan's concern for the rights of landowners and farmers.

This is a complicated debate because, as much as our farmers and our landowners should get something out of it, it can affect their neighbours—their amenity of life and their land. And it could possibly have an effect on our water table and our land—our prime agricultural land—if we do not get it right.

Personally, I support this motion because I believe that when it comes to coal seam gas all the facts need to be put on the table, transparently, so people can have an educated, factual position. We should not be putting our people and our prime agricultural land potentially at risk before we have thoroughly investigated all the possible impacts of coal seam gas mining on human health, our water table and our finite precious agricultural land.

We have a duty of care to err on the side of caution until we know that the practice that is being employed is safe. As I said, we have a duty of care to those who could be affected socially, economically or environmentally. Personally, I have nothing against investigating new sources of energy, and if coal seam gas mining is as safe and efficient as its proponents would have us believe then they should have nothing to fear from a royal commission.

I note that Manufacturing Australia have been visiting the parliament this morning and speaking to many senators and members of the House of Representatives about the positive contribution that Australian manufacturing makes to our country—socially, economically and environmentally—and the need to have affordable gas to give our domestic consumers—the mums and dads and pensioners, and also our food producers and our engineering manufacturers—the opportunity to compete on the world market. They mentioned coal seam gas and shale gas et cetera and how that is being utilised in the US to bring manufacturing back onshore and to bring prosperity for the American people and their economy. In fact, I believe it is in the best interest that coal seam gas mining be thoroughly investigated so that we can prove that it is either safe or not safe— (Time expired)