Fraser comes clean on contentious issue of CSG

Richmond Nationals candidate Matthew Fraser.
Richmond Nationals candidate Matthew Fraser. John Gass

RICHMOND Nationals candidate Matthew Fraser has endorsed the National Party's approach to coal seam gas while saying there is nowhere in the electorate he is standing in that would be suitable for drilling.

In a statement posted on his website, Mr Fraser says he "cannot support CSG operations that do not meet strict guidelines".

Mr Fraser then goes on to lay out "five core principles" behind the Nationals policy on coal seam gas:

  1. No coal seam gas development should proceed where it poses a significant impact to the quality of groundwater or surface water systems. It must be absolutely clear that no coal seam gas development should occur unless it is proven safe for the environment.
  2. Prime agricultural land is an increasingly important natural asset. It must be protected from activities that destroy its capacity to deliver food security - not only for our nation, but for a hungrier world, for generations to come.
  3. Coal seam gas development must not occur close to existing residential areas. People who have bought homes, with a reasonable expectation of being well away from mining operations, must not be thrown into turmoil by coal seam gas operations springing up on their doorstep.
  4. Landowners are entitled to appropriate pecuniary returns for access to their land. Remuneration for landowners should not be merely compensation.
  5. The regions that deliver much of the wealth from coal seam gas developments deserve to see a fair share of the generated revenues reinvested in their communities. There is an opportunity to grow our nation and encourage a lasting legacy from coal seam gas developments.

In his statement, Mr Fraser praises the Nationals approach to coal seam gas and warns that "poorly managed, it could produce an environmental and social disaster.

"I do not believe that it is possible for CSG operations in Richmond to meet these criteria and I will not be supporting any such proposal," he says.

Mr Fraser's statement follows increasing pressure on him to state his position on coal seam gas.

Last week Richmond MP Justine Elliot, who quit her job as a parliamentary secretary so she could speak out on the issue, called on Mr Fraser to make his position clear.

Following the publication of the statement, Ms Elliot lined up her Nationals challenger for another salvo, saying there are no guidelines that could make coal seam gas drilling acceptable.

"This shows that locals just can't risk Matthew Fraser. His in principle support for CSG Mining in Richmond would be devastating for our local farms, valleys and communities," Ms Elliot said.

"My position is clear: I don't support CSG Mining in our community, no ifs, no buts, no conditions."

See Mr Fraser's full statement here. See Ms Elliot's response here.

Topics:  csg election 2013 matthew fraser mining politics

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