THE unconventional gas industry has labelled Senator Glenn Lazarus’s call for a committee to look into the impact of unconventional gas mining in Australia as “politically motivated”.
Coal seam gas exploration is the biggest unconventional mining issue in the North West, with Santos holding exploration licences over parts of the Pilliga Forest, Narrabri surrounds and other parts of the region.
The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA), a national body representing Australia’s oil and gas exploration and production industry, said coal seam gas developments have been deemed “low risk when properly regulated” by a number of experts.
“Australia does not need another politically motivated and costly federal parliamentary inquiry into the natural gas industry,” an APPEA spokesperson said.
“The senate inquiry will cover issues which have already been exhaustively investigated by numerous independent or parliamentary inquiries.
“The gas industry is confident that the facts will show an industry which is safe, responsible and enormously beneficial to Australia, especially to regional communities.”
Senator Lazarus said the inquiry would hold public hearings across the country to give a voice to all Australians impacted by CSG and other forms of unconventional gas mining. The inquiry would cover a number of issues such as the health, social and environmental impacts of unconventional gas mining, compensation arrangements, penalties arrangements and government and non-Government services and assistance for those affected.
“I have been to gasfields in Queensland and they are a living hell for people having to live in them,” Senator Lazarus said.
“Governments can no longer ignore the impact of CSG mining and other types of unconventional gas mining on the people of Australia.”
Senator Lazarus said if successful, the inquiry would be known as the Bender Inquiry and any law changes to come out of the inquiry should be known as George’s Law, in honour of Queensland farmer George Bender who took his own life after years of struggling against CSG industry.
“It is an absolute tragedy that he saw no way out other than to take his own life,” Senator Lazarus said.
“George was bullied to death. Governments and resource companies have blood on their hands. George Bender’s death will not be in vain.”
APPEA said the gas industry is accustomed to activists’ fear campaigns, despite the fact “it employs thousands of people, engages in safe-operation and provides essen- tial energy to millions of households and local manufacturers”.
“Thousands of jobs have been created, unemployment levels in regional areas have fallen and government revenues are boosted by large and growing royalty payments,” a spokesperson said.
“Queensland now has an $80 billion industry that barely existed six years ago.”