Impact of coal seam gas on regional economies

DOUBLE EDGED SWORD: The Australia Institute says coal seam gas developments can have negative impacts on regional economies.

DOUBLE EDGED SWORD: The Australia Institute says coal seam gas developments can have negative impacts on regional economies.

The Australia Institute (TAI) will host a forum in Narrabri about the unexpected downsides coal seam gas developments have on regional economies.

The think tank wanted to have an even-sided debate, inviting Santos, APPEA and the Energy Resource Information Centre to provide a speaker, who all declined or didn’t respond.

However, an APPEA spokesman said it “had not been invited by TAI to attend and will not be participating”.

TAI chief economist Richard Denniss will speak at the event, alongside Miles Chamber of Commerce president Josh Hoffman.

Mr Hoffman’s town is in the centre of a CSG development in Queensland, and said while there had been some benefits, such as upgraded infrastructure and new jobs for locals, there were “serious downsides”.

“Most new businesses are now gone,” Mr Hoffman said.

“Many well established businesses are struggling or have gone in to liquidation, and many investors have lost their life savings.”

TAI spokesman Mark Ogge said detailed surveys in Queensland’s Darling Downs, which has a big CSG industry, showed many businesses in the region shared the same experience.

“The economy is not a magic pudding,” Mr Ogge said.

“Existing businesses lose their skilled workers to the gas companies and have to compete with gas company wages.

“Rents go up, as do the costs of many local goods and services such as servicing vehicles and equipment. In Queensland, many businesses invested heavily on the promise of gas industry contracts and businesses that never materialised, which has led to trail of business closures and bankruptcies.

“This forum gives people an opportunity to about the macro economic impacts from one of Australia’s leading economists, and the real local impacts from a prominent business leader at the centre of CSG development in Queensland.”

The forum will be held at the Crossing Theatre, on Tuesday, November 29, from 6 to 7.30pm.

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