CSG position a political liability: poll

A THIRD of Morwell residents would change voting preferences if their political party supported the lifting of a ban to onshore gas drilling, according to recent polling by the Greens.

The survey, conducted in a phone poll by Lonergan Research, found only 18 per cent of Morwellians supported CSG development and the controversial exploratory drilling technique known as ‘fracking’.

With 64 per cent outright opposed to the practice and another 18 per cent ‘unsure’, acceptance for the emerging onshore gas industry was similar to that in other Victorian locations targeted by the survey.

The polling recorded considerable opposition by 2651 voters surveyed across the state electorates of Morwell.

Similar levels of opposition were recorded in the electorates of Brunswick, South West Coast, and Prahran, where support for CSG development sat at 14, 15 and 21 per cent respectively.

The survey comes as the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Unconventional Gas moves to Melbourne, after holding its first round of hearings in Sale last fortnight.

The polling is part of an ongoing campaign to ensure the Labor government keeps a temporary moratorium on CSG exploration in place.

The survey found 37 per cent of Morwell’s Labor faithful would swing their vote to another party if the Andrews Government lifted the moratorium, while only 21 per cent of Liberal voters would consider a change of heart.

Greens energy spokeswoman Ellen Sandell has called on Labor to recognise “the will of the community” and ban the onshore gas industry permanently.

“Victorians expect the government to keep our state safe and gasfield-free with a permanent ban on unconventional gas drilling and fracking.”

The moratorium on CSG exploration, drilling and hydraulic fracturing, initiated in August 2012, will remain in place until the inquiry reports to Parliament.

Minister for Environment Lisa Neville said Labor was “very aware” of how the community felt on CSG issues.

“That’s why when we were in opposition we called for the moratorium to be put in, we’ve continued the moratorium and that’s why also committed to establish an independent scientific review,” Ms Neville said.

‘It’s really important … we actually do the right work, we look at scientific evidence,  we look at the impact on regional communities, on agricultural land on water and make sure we are making the best decisions based on the best science.”