THE Wildnerness Society is hitting the Mt Lawley electorate hard in an attempt to unseat pro-fracking incumbent Michael Sutherland.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves drilling underground and pumping in a mix of water, chemicals and sand to force open tiny fractures and release gas. Proponents see it as a more environmentally-friendly energy source than coal, while protestors claim it’s environmentally damaging and can lead to the gas and chemicals leaking into ground and surface water.
While the industry gets accused of whitewashing concerns, anti-fracking protestors have also dabbled in scaremongering: Queensland Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham claimed fracking had made a local river flammable because of leaking gas, setting the surface on fire to make his point. The CSIRO said the gas was naturally occurring.
Labor will declare the Perth Peel and South West regions “frack-free” zones in October if elected while the Greens want that ban extended to the Mid West, Pilbara and Kimberley.
There’s no fracks planned for the electorate but Wilderness Society polling says “83.8 per cent of Mt Lawley voters are concerned about fracking, with 62.5 per cent saying they want a ban on the practice, [and] 32.4 per cent” wanting a permanent ban.
TWS’s state director Jenita Enevoldsen says “with growing support for minor parties, the major parties need to show they are listening to the community, and this polling shows the vast majority of voters are concerned about fracking, want the practice banned and are more likely to vote for a party that supports some sort of ban.”
Mr Sutherland says WA’s extensive shale gas resources are an important resource.
“Fracking in WA is not new,” he told the Voice. “Over the past 60 years there have been over 700 fracking activities without any major negative incidents.
“WA has strict multiagency approvals processes in place before fracking is allowed, which includes the Department of Water, Health, Planning, Parks and Wildlife, and Environmental Regulations,” Mr Sutherland said.
by DAVID BELL