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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 6019

Mr BRUCE SCOTT (MaranoaSecond Deputy Speaker) (20:46): Minister, as you would be well aware, there has been a great deal of concern in relation to the coal seam methane gas extraction in my electorate and, obviously, other parts of Australia. Minister, are you aware that the British government has recently suspended hydraulic fracking of deep shale formations in the underground? This followed officials from the geological survey installing measuring equipment near a drill site that measured a magnitude 2.3 earthquake. That occurred on 1 April and, further, on 27 May another earthquake was recorded. Those are small earthquakes, but the suggestion is that there is a link between hydraulic fracking and those minor earthquakes. As a result of that, the British Department of Energy and Climate Change firstly suspended the practice of fracking and is now investigating the possible link between fracking and the earthquakes. I wonder whether you or your department are aware of that?

Also, Minister, I do not know whether you are aware that the French lower house recently passed a bill which would prohibit the fracking of the underground for coal seam methane gas or gas extraction, including oil as well, I think. Minister, as a result of the information that is coming out of Europe and the United Kingdom, the French lower house, not the upper house—it would require both houses—wants to impose a ban on fracking and the withdrawal of all permits that may have been issued for this procedure to continue. It has to go through the upper house and their decision is yet to be decided, obviously.

Minister, would you be prepared to suspend fracking in Australia until the investigation in the United Kingdom has been completed? Would you and the department undertake any more research into the process of fracking within Australia or would you consider requiring the installation of measuring equipment near drill sites where fracking is occurring? I know those are a whole lot of questions about 'Did you know?' or 'Are you aware?' but they have suspended operations in the United Kingdom; the French government in the lower house—if they get the support of the upper house—want to ban fracking; and the British geological survey officials installed measuring equipment and that is how they identified the mini-earthquakes. There are quite a lot of other questions, but those are the most important at the moment. Thank you, Minister.