Petroleum and Geothermal Energy (Hydraulic Fracturing) Amendment Bill

Adjourned debate on second reading.

(Continued from 24 September 2014.)

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Leader of the Opposition) ( 17:25 :54 ): I rise on behalf of the opposition to speak to the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy (Hydraulic Fracturing) Amendment Bill No. 32. The bill in question seeks to prevent the fracking (or hydraulic fracturing) on any land in South Australia over the next two years. Following this arbitrary two-year period, the bill goes a step further and, on my reading, the bill will continue to prevent fracking (or hydraulic fracture stimulation) on land used for the purposes of primary production indefinitely.

I would like to make it clear that the opposition strongly supports the mining sector and acknowledges its importance as a key growth generator in our economy. As such, we cannot support a moratorium on fracking and to do so would have detrimental effects on our state's economy, prosperity and job creation prospects going forward.

It is a proposal with an extremely green agenda and it makes no attempt to balance South Australia's economic security. Our manufacturing sector is on its knees and we will be relying increasingly on the mining sector, as we will continue to rely on the agricultural sector as we have done for many decades. Both industries need some protection and the Liberals strongly believe that this extreme approach would not be productive for our state.

It is also worthy to note that the bill would still allow hydraulic fracturing for the purposes of trying to generate geothermal energy. Hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas is typically done in shale rocks to release the oil and gas that exists within the sealed pores in the rocks. Hydraulic fracturing for geothermal energy is typically done to extremely hot, solid, granite rocks to break them open so that water can be forced in, resulting in steam or very hot water coming back to the surface where it is passed through a heat exchanger and that heat is then converted into electrical energy.

Because of the difference in the nature of the rocks the fracking or the 'fracs' for geothermal require blasts three to five times stronger than for oil and gas, so I am advised. I think it is strange then that if someone had a genuine concern about the possible negative impacts upon underground water or of latent seismic activity, hydraulic fractures for geothermal would be of much more concern than those for oil or gas.

This clause in the proposed bill illustrates the Greens' ideological preference for geothermal energy and its simplistic opposition to the hydrocarbon industry. These industries are far too important to our state for the future to be decided on ideology and politics rather than fact. It is for these brief reasons that I indicate that the Liberals will be opposing the bill.

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