Some common sense was added to the ongoing debate over the use of hydraulic fracturing at the weekend, when Federal Shadow Minister for Resources Gary Gray spoke in favour of natural gas development and fracking at the State Labor conference in Western Australia.
While conference delegates eventually passed a resolution moved by the Maritime Union of Australia calling for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, Mr Gray has defended industry and put his full support behind the safe development of the onshore oil and gas industry.
In a statement Mr Gray – quite correctly- said:
“Fracking has been successfully and safely used in Australia for over 50 years.”
He went on to say:
“Unconventional gas delivers three quarters of the gas that is burned and consumed producing electricity and driving industry on the East Coast. This is good technology.
“I do not believe that there is a need for WA to place a moratorium on the use of fracking technology.”
The facts back the sentiment.
Western Australia has safely been developing oil and natural gas resources for decades and is an important economic driver for the State. According to the State Government, in 2014 domestic natural gas sales increased by three per cent to 9.6 billion cubic metres while the value of sales rose by 15 per cent to $1.8 billion.
Mr Gray understands the importance of this critical industry to Western Australia and states:
“good regulation based on science is critical to getting this important gas industry under way, generating low carbon energy, jobs, wealth and opportunity in Western Australia.”
One of the most puzzling aspects of the call to impose a moratorium is that it comes from a party that claims to represent workers.
Threatening an industry which generates jobs, provides State revenue and delivers vital energy needs for business and homes makes no sense – not to mention that the technology of hydraulic fracturing has been used safely worldwide in more than two million wells.
The conference resolution also commits a future State Labor Government to hold an inquiry into the gas industry, conveniently ignoring the fact that there is already a State Parliamentary inquiry into fracking.
It has been underway for two years now and is due to report in the next few months.
The waste to taxpayer funds of establishing a similar inquiry would be almost as large as the wasted opportunity to provide affordable energy to Western Australian businesses and consumers through a process and a technology that has proven to be safe and effective.