Senate Select Committee on Unconventional Gas Mining – The ‘Bender Inquiry’
In November 2015 I won the support of the Senate to establish a national inquiry into Unconventional Gas. I affectionately called it the ‘Bender Inquiry’ in honour of George Bender, a champion of the rights of ordinary Queenslanders, who spent the last years of his life in a desperate struggle against the exploitation of his family’s farmland by coal seam gas (CSG) companies.
I chaired the Senate Select Committee undertaking the Inquiry. I believe the Inquiry dramatically highlighted the need for urgent national action on CSG and other forms of unconventional gas mining including the development of a national plan to manage the conduct of unconventional gas and the establishment of critical services to support those affected.
Two hearings were held before the Turnbull Government called a Double Dissolution election and all Inquiries were cancelled. The first hearing was held in Dalby on 17 February. The Inquiry heard from Queenslanders who have endured significant issues as a result of CSG mining including health and social issues, loss of water, contamination of what water is left, livestock health issues, declining property values and other concerns.
Submissions to the Committee closed on 14 March 2016 and the final report inclusive of recommendations was tabled in the Senate during the month of June 2016.
I hoped the Inquiry would give all Australians a voice concerning unconventional gas mining. Sadly the election brought an end to this.
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