Natural gas industry fires up

RELATED: Seaspray gas field protest     Industry hits back with campaign

AUSTRALIA’S natural gas industry has reacted to the growing public disquiet over the development of tight gas and coal seam gas.

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association has launched its ‘Our Natural Advantage’ advertising campaign to increase public awareness of and public support for the industry’s natural gas activities.

In its advertising campaign it claims to have created about 100,000 jobs last year and invested more than $200 billion on projects across Australia.

But it goes further than pointing out its investments, it labels those opposed to development of gas fields as ideological activists holding back Australia’s economy and threatening employment.

Its advertising campaign states “Despite the economic benefits, our industry is faced with a long running, organised, and well-resourced campaign to stop nationbuilding resource projects across Australia.

“It is not only often based upon misinformation, but it is often unfounded and unchallenged to the point where activism is determining public policy. It is putting the future of Australian natural gas development, jobs and local investment at risk.”

In response, CSG Wellington Awareness Group member Jo McCubbin ridiculed the APPEA campaign.

“APPEA wants us all to love gas to the exclusion of the wellbeing of our land and water, our farms, our families and our communities,” Dr McCubbin said.

“The hundreds of Gippslanders who braved the icy weather at Seaspray stood colourful testament to the resolve of our community to say no to becoming a gas field. It will take more than a few glossy ads to turn around the damage to the brand, already done in Queensland and locally by explorers in Gippsland.

“APPEA wants us to say yes to gas, so that they can make billions and potentially employ some locals, (or perhaps 457 visa holders).

“The income we could generate from remaining clean and green and the incalculable good of feeding future generations healthy food, not to mention tourism dollars foregone, doesn’t enter into their calculations,” Dr McCubbin said. “It shows how shallow their analysis really is.”

Dr McCubbin said the APPEA media campaign demonstrated that they it was “running scared”. “They trot out the same old excuses for everything that threatens their business model (identical job and economic claims were made for putting a price on carbon),” she said.

“We say they should change their outdated business model, not change our landscape forever,” she said.

Lock The Gate Alliance president Drew Hutton said the advertising campaign was misleading and insulting.

“The CSG companies are trying to scare the Australian people into submission, vilifying farmers who stand up against them and demanding that they have unfettered access to our best farmland and water resources,” he said.

“This is a classic case of over-reach; APPEA are even opposed to new federal laws which simply require CSG companies to assess their impacts on water resources before they start drilling.

“What APPEA won’t tell us in their $5 million advertising spend is that the vast majority of profits they produce go to overseas shareholders. What they won’t tell us is that their plans to export vast quantities of CSG for export will actually limit gas supply in Australia and dramatically increase the prices we pay for gas here.

“In fact, it is the CSG companies themselves who will be driving up energy prices and the cost of living in Australia, but they are accusing farmers of this.

“The CSG companies won’t even accept reserving a small percentage of gas at a reasonable price for Australian manufacturers to use,” he said.

“Australia can’t afford to let a short term industry ruin our farmland, pollute our water and divide our communities.”