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Thursday, 12 February 2015
Page: 623


Senator WATERS (Queensland) (13:45): I will just make a very brief contribution to indicate that the Australian Greens will be supporting the amendments moved by Senator Xenophon. Significant impacts on a water resource from coal seam gas or large coalmining currently trigger the need for federal environmental approval. The effect of this amendment would be to expand the water trigger such that any hydraulic fracturing activity which was going to have a significant impact on a water resource would also require the environment minister to consider whether an approval was required under the EPBC Act. In plain English, this amendment would ensure that any shale fracking meets federal approval if it is going to damage a groundwater or a surface water system.

I am really pleased to have Senator Xenophon's support on this issue. We Greens have been raising concerns about unconventional gas, including shale gas and coal seam gas, for as long as I have been in this parliament. We have moved countless bills which have sadly not received support from any of the big parties. I am grateful for the support of the Independents and the small parties on this issue. I can assure the government and the opposition, if I may speak for the crossbench on this issue, that we will not give up on protecting farmland, the climate and our groundwater given that those things are absolutely crucial in this driest inhabited continent on the planet. Food security is only going to become a bigger issue as climate change rolls out. So I indicate our support for these amendments.