Mark spoke again about the need to ban fracking in the South East and Greens support for the Bill for a moratorium. He noted a sense of déjà vu as this Bill, introduced into the Upper House as a Government Bill, was identical to Mark's Greens Bill that the Government opposed back in July of this year.
Petroleum and Geothermal Energy (Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing) Amendment Bill 2018
I have to say there is a strange feeling of déjà vu in the chamber this afternoon as we reach this item on the Notice Paper, the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy (Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing) Amendment Bill 2018. I read the bill and it looked strangely familiar. In fact, I recognised the drafting, I recognised the words that were used, and the penny eventually dropped that this was, in fact, the same bill that I had introduced into this chamber and that had been voted down by both the major parties. Fast forwarding a couple of months, we now see that the bill is back before us. It is not back in my name. In fact, it is not back in the name of any of us on the crossbench; it is now a government bill and we are debating it on government time. What a remarkable turn of events.
I will take the opportunity to acknowledge the work that Troy Bell, the member for Mount Gambier has done in the lower house, and his incredible powers of persuasion to be able to take a Greens' bill, introduce it into that chamber and by force of argument convince the Liberal Party to vote for it. In fact, so convince them as to the merits of this bill, that they would bring it back to us not as a private members bill as it started but, in fact, as a government bill to be debated in government time. I am curious as to what might have changed in the meantime. When I go back and refresh my memory about the contribution of the Hon. David Ridgway, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, when he spoke to my private bill back on 25 July, he said:
We have already acted to implement the moratorium on fracking in the South-East in the Limestone Coast area. This bill tries to play politics by bringing into question that moratorium.
Back in July, this bill was playing politics but we fast forward to October and, all of a sudden, we find that it is now an essential piece of legislation that the parliament should be seriously considering, and the government is inviting us to vote for it. It is a government bill. Mr Ridgway went on to say:
We made a commitment for a 10-year moratorium, and that is what the people of the Limestone Coast and the South-East have. The moratorium is working. This is just an attempt to raise concerns in the South-East, where there are no concerns because we have made good on our promise: it is a 10-year moratorium.
The concerns of residents in the South-East was evidenced on the day we voted for my bill the same bill. We had the public gallery full of farmers from the South-East who had spent a great deal of time and money bussing up or driving up from the South-East. Their passion for this issue did, I am sad to say, attract the ire of the President. I have never seen Parliament House security staff mount a staircase as quickly as I did on that day. Of course, there was no need to be alarmed, as it turned out. They were expressing their passionate views about the importance of the legislation but I think they posed no danger to themselves or to us or to other members of the public, but certainly the passions were there.
They were terribly disappointed, back on that occasion, that the government and the opposition did not support the bill.
So when the minister sums up the second reading debate on what is now a government bill, I might ask him, if he could, to reflect on what has changed in the short period of time between when the government thought this was purely playing politics and was completely unnecessary and now when we find it on the notice paper in government business.
The other thing that I will raise as a point is that the Hon. David Ridgway back in July said:
In principle, we do not support using mining legislation to legislate against specific activities and technologies.
We have heard that a few times in the past. I have brought matters before this chamber in relation to a specific mining activity or technology underground coal gasification and we are told, 'Oh, no, we couldn't possibly legislate to ban a specific mining technique or a specific mining technology.' Well, I am delighted that the government has seen the error of its ways and realised that it is in fact a very important role of this parliament to scrutinise particular technologies, specific ways of mining, and to come to a conclusion on whether they are good for the people of South Australia or not.
So I am very encouraged by the government's current approach, and when I bring, as I will, back to this place a bill to ban underground coal gasification, one of the dirtiest, most polluting forms of extracting fossil fuels that we know of, I look forward to the government supporting that legislation and not raising this hoary old issue that 'We don't legislate in relation to specific technologies.' Clearly we do: we are legislating for it today.
There is no conceivable position that anyone would expect the Greens to take other than to fully endorse this bill before us and to vote for it. It is in fact the Greens bill. Again, I will offer my congratulations and thanks to the member for Mount Gambier for his diligence in pursuing it through the lower house. I understand we are going to progress this bill through all stages today. I look forward to the committee stage. I may have a few more questions in fact I will have a few more questions for the minister. But for now, the Greens are delighted to be supporting the second reading of this bill.