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Issue #1680      April 15, 2015

Call for moratorium on CSG

Lock the Gate Alliance president Drew Hutton says he “supported wholeheartedly” all 20 of the recommendations of the Select Committee on Certain Aspects of Queensland Government Administration related to Commonwealth Government Affairs.

Hutton called on the ALP to reverse its opposition to recommendations calling for a moratorium on new coal seam gas (CSG) approvals, a Royal Commission into the human impacts of CSG mining, and the ban on fracking in Queensland.

“It’s a shame Labor opposed four of the most crucial recommendations,” Hutton said. “Now is the time for the ALP to clear the decks and cut its links with the former state Labor administration and the former Liberal National Party (LNP) government.

“Queenslanders know some really dodgy deals went down under both the previous ALP and LNP governments and now is the time to right those wrongs.”

He pointed out that the report highlights the reasons why the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation powers should not be handed back to the states – that they just cannot be trusted as the sole approving authority for major developments.

“Both the new ALP state government and the federal government should be pushing for a Queensland ICAC and a Resources Ombudsman to stamp out corruption and bring transparency back to this state.

“The report highlights the harrowing evidence given by people living in the gasfields who have experienced negative impacts on their health, their farming businesses and their land values.

“We are very disappointed that the Liberal Senator issued a dissenting report and that the Liberal Senators did not even bother turning up at sittings to hear evidence from people living in gasfields.”

Mr Hutton congratulated the members of the committee, particularly Queensland Senators Larissa Waters and Glenn Lazarus who acted in an exemplary manner despite the appalling behaviour of Coalition committee members who constantly tried to undermine the proceedings.

The federal government Energy Whitepaper released last week is another missed opportunity to reassure the community on unconventional gas says the Lock the Gate Alliance.

“After the issue playing out in the Victorian and NSW state elections, Energy Minister MacFarlane has failed to take community concerns seriously,” said National Coordinator, Phil Laird.

“Legitimate concerns raised by the NSW Chief Scientist were not referred to at all by the Energy White Paper, nor the recommendations of the NSW Gas Supply Inquiry.

“The government has taken the simplistic hands off approach of leaving gas regulation to the market. The Whitepaper does not provide a framework to ensure rigorous environmental protection but seeks to streamline environmental approvals via a one stop shop. Further there is no process to determine the existing gas supply volumes, domestic and export demand and future gas commitments so that government planning decisions are made in Australia’s long-term national interest.”

He said the Alliance does welcome a proposal for an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission investigation into market transparency and price discovery in the upstream gas market and that it has been clear for some time now, that a number of public statements have been made to financial markets and the community at large in a coordinated scare campaign that there will be gas shortages.

“These public statements have been made by a range of companies who seek to benefit by ramping up CSG and unconventional gas development on the eastern seaboard.

“The misinformation, price gouging and cartel-like behaviour deserve further investigation as does the revolving door between industry and government.

“This is the next piece of the puzzle for affected communities and gas consumers alike who are wondering why the regulation of this industry has gone so wrong and who will be held accountable for its abuse of market power.”

Next article – Asylum seekers – Labor, Liberals legacy

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