Coulton’s Catch-Up

MARK COULTON MP FEDERAL MEMBER FOR PARKES

25th July

The presence of mining coal and coal seam gas exploration in the Parkes Electorate has increased in recent years. A large section of my electorate has been identified as containing either coal or coal seam gas resources. While the potential for these resources is enormous, it is essential that this is balanced against the ongoing ability for this area to continue as a major food producer.

The communities of Bellata, Moree, Tooraweenah and Narrabri are facing significant exploration and development in coal seam gas. Many primary producers in these areas have contacted me regarding their concerns about the mining of coal seam gas. There is a lot of uncertainty of the risks associated with mining coal seam gas, especially in terms of agricultural productivity and the potential adverse effects on underground aquifers.

There is much misinformation circulating in these communities, and that combined with a lack of reliable information is adding to growing anxiety.

The Senate Committee for Rural Affairs and Transport is conducting an inquiry into the management of the Murray-Darling Basin and in particular the impact of mining coal seam gas in the Basin.

The inquiry will investigate the economic, social and environmental impact of mining coal seam gas and will focus on the sustainability of water, property rights of landholders, prime agricultural land, associated health impacts and impacts on regional communities.

This inquiry will provide the opportunity for people to raise their concerns and issues directly with the Government through written submissions and also public hearings that will be held by the committee in areas where coal seam gas exploration is taking place.

I have made a submission to the inquiry encouraging the committee to hold public forums in the communities of Narrabri and Tooraweenah. People in these areas have been looking for factual information in order to make reasonable and educated decisions in relation to water management, agriculture and coal seam gas.

I believe it would be useful for this committee to fully investigate any links between mining and coal seam gas activities with any possible adverse effects on underground aquifers. I also believe that an inquiry in these areas would enable the resource companies a forum to explain the extent of their proposed activities as well as giving local farmers an opportunity to voice their concerns.

I would strongly encourage any person that is concerned with the impact of mining coal seam gas to consider preparing a submission to the inquiry. The submissions are not required to be lengthy and I would suggest referring to the terms of reference below as a guide to structuring your submission.

Terms of Reference to address in your submission:

  • The Rural Affairs and Transport References Committee will examine the economic, social and environmental impacts of mining coal seam gas on:
  • the sustainability of water aquifers and future water licensing arrangements;
  • the property rights and values of landholders;
  • the sustainability of prime agricultural land and Australia’s food task;
  • the social and economic benefits or otherwise for regional towns and the effective management of relationships between mining and other interests; and
  • other related matters including health impacts.

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