Unconventional gas is a collective term for
three natural gas sources found within different rock layers in the
earth’s crust, known as coal seam, tight and shale gas. Between
2000 and 2012 there was some exploration for unconventional gas but
no commercial discoveries. In 2012, the government placed a
moratorium on coal seam gas exploration—later expanded to all
This audit examined whether Victoria is well
placed to effectively respond to the potential environmental and
community risks and impacts of onshore unconventional gas
activities in the event that these proceed in this state.
Victoria is not as well placed as it could be
to respond to the risks and impacts that could arise if the
moratorium is lifted, allowing unconventional gas activities to
proceed. The Department of Economic Development, Jobs,
Transport & Resources (DEDJTR) did not sufficiently assess
the risks or effective regulation of these activities prior to
2012, although it has made progress on this since then.
The infancy of the industry and the moratorium
provide an ideal opportunity for the government to evaluate the
full range of potential risks and impacts of unconventional gas.
There is key work that DEDJTR needs to do to inform the government
about risks, before the moratorium is reviewed. It will also need
to better regulate unconventional gas development, should the
government allow it to proceed, supported where necessary by the
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. DEDJTR can
also improve its earth resources regulation more generally.