Rockingham councillors reject supporting ban on fracking

Picture: Jon Hewson
Picture: Jon Hewson

A MOTION for the City of Rockingham to support a ban on fracking was rejected at Wednesday’s council meeting.

Councillor Leigh Liley submitted a motion “that council support a ban of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in the Perth metropolitan, Peel and South-West regions, as proposed by WA Labor State Government position”, as stated by Premier Mark McGowan in October 2016.

“Because of the unique natural environment, high population density, land use patterns and deep aquifers in these regions, fracking presents an unacceptable risk to farming, tourism and the South-West’s unique biodiversity,” Mr McGowan said at the time.

Cr Liley said she had major concerns with the effect fracking would have on Perth’s aquifers.

She said although nothing was currently planned for the immediate region, any such activity in the southwest corner of the State would have a detrimental effect, as everyone relied on the same underground water source.

A council report on the motion concluded the council did not have ‘in-house expertise’ relating to fracking and would need to engage the services of a suitably qualified external consultant at an estimated cost of $20,000-$30,000.

Cr Liley said she did not expect the City to use resources; rather, it was a conscience vote.

“It’s not a political coin,” she said.

“I’m not asking City officers to go out to gather a body of research – it already exists.”

“Our region is the South- West corner; you can’t take Rockingham out of it.

“Fracking has a significant impact on artesian water – it will affect us.

“For me personally it’s a no brainer – we can’t do without water.

“Why do we have a health department if we don’t care about health?”

Crs Deb Hamblin, Joy Stewart and Katherine Summers voted in favour of Cr Liley’s motion.

Opposed were councillors Matt Whitfield, Lee Downham, Chris Elliott, Justin Smith, with Mayor Barry Sammels casting the deciding vote against the motion.

Both Crs Whitfield and Downham said it was a waste of resources.

“It’s meaningless – the state will decide,” Cr Whitfield said.

“To my knowledge there are no proposals and with an election just six months away we don’t need to waste officers’ time.”

Crs Hamblin and Stewart said the City did not need an investigation.

“This motion should be supported,” Cr Hamblin said.

“It’s really a conscience vote. I think we need to make a stand on this.

“For us, water is our most precious resource.”

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