Hot on the heels of a Senate Inquiry into its murky taxpayer grants for fracking in the Northern Territory, the Morrison Government is now shifting its wasteful spending spree to Queensland’s Bowen and Galilee basins.
Resources Minister Keith Pitt and the local MP were in Mackay this morning to announce the Central Queensland basins would be the next cabs off the rank for the Morrison Government’s attempts to use Covid-19 to justify giving public money to gas companies.
However, this morning’s Mackay press conference appears to contain numerous re-announcements, including $5 Million for a feasibility study for a gas pipeline connecting the Bowen Basin to Wullumbilla, near Roma, which was already allocated in this year’s budget.
This decision to allocate the $5 million to the pipeline study by the Morrison Government followed a similar allocation by the Queensland Palaszczuk Government, which followed public comments by fracking company Blue Energy around the need for such a pipeline.
Blue Energy holds gas tenements in the Bowen Basin, and told shareholders it would benefit from such a pipeline.
Lock the Gate Alliance National Coordinator Carmel Flint said she wouldn’t be surprised if this latest gas cash splash also led to a Senate Inquiry.
“The Morrison Government is intent on throwing more taxpayer funds at gas giants, despite being exposed for a dubious grants process that benefited fracking companies linked with Liberal party donors in the Northern Territory recently,” she said.
“I’m sure the North Queensland tourism industry would love some big grants right now to support their businesses which have done it tough during COVID, but instead it’s gas companies who are raking in the cash to explore for gas to export overseas.
“There are more than 7000 producing coal seam gas wells in the Surat and Bowen Basins in Queensland already - this industry does not need a hand out.”
Mackay Conservation Group spokesperson Peter McCallum said the government’s job estimates were severely inflated.
“We know that for every 10 jobs created in gasfield development in the Western Downs, 18 were lost from agriculture in the region,” he said.
“Giving handouts to gas companies so they can further exploit Queensland also leaves our struggling tourism industry hanging while putting our water risk.
“We know that in areas close to CSG development in Southern Queensland, more than 120 water bores used for farming have run dry.
“We should be investing public money in renewable energy and food production, not in gas developments that will drive climate change and damage farmland”.