The Lock the Gate Alliance has welcomed the refusal by Minister Anthony Roberts of Petroleum Exploration applications in Central New South Wales and called on the gas industry to come clean over gas prices and contracts after revelations in New South Wales parliament yesterday that no policy maker in Australia knows whether or not the east coast gas market will experience domestic shortfalls as a result of LNG export contracts in Queensland.
Under questioning in Budget Estimates in New South Wales parliament yesterday, Energy Minister Anthony Roberts revealed that the gas industry is leaving Australian policy makers “in the dark” over unsubstantiated claims that export gas contracts have created a supply shortfall, requiring hasty development of unsafe unconventional gasfields in regional New South Wales.
Lock the Gate NSW Coordinator Georgina Woods said, “The public has been bombarded with threats of a looming gas shortage thanks to LNG export contracts vacuuming up the east coast supply and driving up wholesale prices. Yesterday’s bombshell reveals that, in fact, the gas industry has refused to give the Government, let along the public, the information it needs to assess the hysterical claims made by gas companies and their boosters, in their urging to hasten the development of vast invasive gasfields in bushland and farmland in northern New South Wales.
“The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association has treated regional communities that dare to stand up to the gas giants and fight to protect their water supplies with contempt, and it seems they’ve done the same to the Government.
“We welcome Minister Roberts’ rejection of the petroleum exploration applications affecting Dubbo and the Blue Mountains, and his insistence that industry claims over gas shortfalls be transparently tested.
“If the gas giants have overcommitted their export contracts and cannot meet their commitments, that is not the fault of farming communities in northern New South Wales, and there’s no way that communities will allow the groundwater they depend upon for their livelihoods to be compromised because gas companies can't count how many gigajoules they've got to sell in Queensland.
“The unfinished business in unconventional gas policy is proper protection for water resources – our rivers, aquifers and drinking water catchments – from any kind of drilling."
A transcript of yesterday’s estimates hearing with Minister Roberts is available here.