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Issue #1645      July, 2, 2014

Farmers won’t be bought on CSG

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has got it wrong if he thinks farmers can simply be bought off with bigger financial incentives to allow drilling for coal seam gas on their land, the Lock the Gate Alliance says.

National coordinator for Lock the Gate Phil Laird said throwing bundles of cash at individual landholders would only intensify conflict over coal seam gas drilling in rural communities nationwide.

“The issue is not how much money individuals can make, it is about the fact that drilling for coal seam gas and other forms of unconventional gas is simply not safe,” Mr Laird said.

“It’s not safe for our water resources, our farmland or our communities. Fracking and other forms of unconventional gas extraction are not appropriate in food producing areas, over aquifers or near human beings.

“We have to ask why on the one hand is the Minister so keen to get coal seam gas out of the ground at the expense of land and water yet is refusing to reserve any gas for domestic use.”

Mr Laird said Macfarlane is reported as saying that gas reservation would come in “over my dead body”, an alarming statement that shows his disregard for Australian agriculture and manufacturing industries.

“CSG exports are locking Australia into the world gas market and will cause domestic gas prices to triple. CSG companies will reap windfall profits, while Australian manufacturing loses tens of thousands of jobs and everyday Australians pay much more just to heat their homes.

“Other countries understand the strategic nature of energy supplies and have implemented gas reservation. It is the responsibility of Australian governments to protect Australian consumers and industries, but Macfarlane is sacrificing us for the CSG exporters.”

He noted that, consumers in Australia and around the world are demanding clean and green food supplies. The community demands balance in this debate beyond the narrow focus of sectional interests.

“Policy inaction on gas reservation, no go zones and environmental protection shows how federal governments have failed the national interest test on this issue and mining in general. When will we have a mature debate in this country on CSG and unconventional gas? The risks in getting it wrong are too great.”

Next article – Coalition’s war on refugee rights grinds on

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