Just Climate by Madelaine Moore

Russell Broadbent MP with citizen scientist Aileen Venning at Cape Paterson

Republished from Just Community

It may be hard to think beyond Corona at this moment. However, climate change has not gone away and, recently, we heard some critical news on the climate front that will impact our area. In March, the Victorian state government, under pressure from the federal government, removed the moratorium on onshore conventional gas drilling in Victoria. Unconventional gas extraction, that is, fracking in shale or coal seams, is still banned.

Nevertheless, this is bad news, as conventional extraction is still very damaging to the environment. It releases high levels of methane during extraction, production and transportation, and is also a risk to our water. That’s why so many people across the state, particularly in Southern Gippsland, fought hard to protect our region from gas extraction.

The argument put forward by the gas industry is that this will lower gas prices. But this is misleading, for in order for gas prices to drop, the federal government would need to implement a gas reserve policy, which it is unwilling to do. Furthermore, new gas projects offer short-term jobs, but threaten our established industries such as agriculture and tourism. Compare this with renewable projects, such as the Star of the South, which would be a long-term employer of well-paid jobs.

Although not directly impacting our area, other governments also seem to be using the cover of the COVID-19 pandemic to open up new gas and coal drilling sites, and to avoid action on climate. For those who missed it, the Great Barrier Reef has experienced another destructive bleaching event. The NSW government is about to allow coal mining in water catchments and has ramped up the clear-felling of hardwood forests, including the Bimblebox Nature Reserve, a critical habitat for endangered wildlife.

This is the time to demand that our representatives take action. Please write to Dan Andrews to let him know what you think about the risks of gas extraction to our area. And don’t forget our federal rep, Russell Broadbent… Mr Broadbent has continued to refuse to sign Zali Stegall’s climate action bill, even though it goes no further than what business is already asking for.

What the pandemic has shown us is that governments can act and they can act with great speed when they want to. Like the COVID-19 crisis, the climate crisis also threatens our loved ones, our livelihoods, our health, and way of life. In the aftermath of the pandemic, let’s re-build and protect our environment, creating a healthier and more sustainable South Gippsland for all humans and creatures that call it home.

The Author is from Fish Creek