Disallowance Motion

23 October 2018

The Hon. ADAM SEARLE (15:34): The Opposition does not support the disallowance motion. The Opposition does not support the Santos proposal at Narrabri. We opposed it at the last State election and we have legislation before this House, the Coal Seam and Other Unconventional Gas Moratorium Bill 2015, which is, to all intents and purposes, a ban on coal seam gas [CSG] in this State. If enacted into law the legislation would see a swift end brought to the Santos Narrabri project. Let there be no misunderstanding about the Opposition’s position on that matter. However, the matter now before the House is the disallowance of the Petroleum (Onshore) Regulation 2016. While we share some of the same objectives as the mover of the disallowance, the consequence of the disallowance would simply be, as the Minister pointed out, that gas today used in electricity generation would be flared.

Mr Jeremy Buckingham is correct, we do have concerns about additional flaring in the drought conditions around Narrabri. It is a waste of the resource and flaring causes additional pollution as opposed to using this resource in electricity generation. I take the point made by the mover that there is potential flaring going on at the moment. If that is the case, then I am very concerned about that and that is something that should be investigated by the relevant authorities. Adding to that problem would be the inevitable consequence of carrying this disallowance. It would result in a worse outcome.

Despite not supporting the Santos project at Narrabri—we are clearly on the record about that matter—we are not able in all good conscience to support this disallowance. It will not hasten the end of the Santos project at Narrabri. It will not see the wells capped. It will not force Santos to bring its exploration to an end. It will simply mean that this resource will be put into the atmosphere through flaring, thereby adding to emissions and pollution and wasting a valuable resource. For those reasons, the Opposition does not support this disallowance motion. We will continue to fight for the enactment of our legislation and for a more sensible approach to coal seam gas in this State.

Although the Opposition does support a rapid transformation of our energy system towards a greater reliance on renewable energy—and we will have more to say about that as we approach the election—under every conceivable and reasonable scenario for transforming our energy system, gas remains a crucial feature, particularly around firming as well as continuing to play a role in electricity generation. We should not be shutting the door on potential sources of conventional gas. Coal seam and unconventional gas is in a different category. With that brief contribution, the Opposition’s position is that we will not be supporting this disallowance.