North west NSW landholders say they are more determined than ever to stop gas pipeline company APA Group from carving a path of destruction through their land and the environment.
The comments come after transparency advocacy group Publish What You Pay revealed APA Group chose to establish a subsidiary in the secrecy jurisdiction of Delaware, USA, at the same time Delaware’s role in facilitating cross border money-laundering, tax evasion, and tax avoidance was publicly exposed.
The report also showed a spider web of connections between gas companies active in Australia, international tax havens, and tax-dodging billionaires, including a Russian oligarch who the USA enforced sanctions against in relation to the invasion of Ukraine.
The APA subsidiary, called APA Services (Int) Inc, is registered to the notorious “Corporate Trust Centre” at 1209 Orange Street in Wilmington, Delaware, where more than 300,000 other companies are also registered.
Neither Lock the Gate Alliance nor the local landholders are suggesting APA has committed any crimes in registering its subsidiary at the Delaware address.
The revelations follow renewed excitement from APA Group after the NSW Independent Planning Commission gave the green light to the Santos Narrabri gasfield. The company will also hold its Annual General Meeting tomorrow (Thursday October 22).
APA Group wants to build a 460km pipeline from the Narrabri Project to connect with the Moomba Sydney gas pipeline near Condobolin.
However, the company’s plans take the pipeline through many properties and sensitive environmental areas, like ephemeral wetlands upstream of the Macquarie Marshes, and landholders say they will fight tooth and nail to stop the pipeline.
Many landholders have had previous, negative experiences with APA Group from the first time the company began surveying properties.
Among them is Kate Mildner, who helps operate a grazing operation about 40km from Warren on the Macquarie River.
“APA Group presents a very squeaky clean image on its website and publicly, but that’s the opposite of what we’ve found when we had to deal with them,” she said.
“Our own experience is that this company was not upfront, and it was totally unwilling to listen to landholders.
“APA Group has also proposed a pipeline route that would take it through vertisol soils that crack and swell and are totally incompatible with a high pressure gas pipeline, as well as through heavily flooded floodplains of the Macquarie river, potentially risking the RAMSAR listed Macquarie Marshes.
“I want my future generations to manage and look after our land like we have, but this damn thing puts a huge threat to our holistic management”.
Fellow landholder, Rowena Macrae, who runs a mixed grazing and cropping operation 25km from Coonamble said she was equally fiercely opposed to the pipeline and the company behind it.
“We had a terrible experience with APA - we found them trespassing on a neighbour's property and the company’s representatives lacked the identification and qualifications they claimed they had.
“Since the Santos approval was granted, APA has come out and said its proposed pipeline is back on agenda. Our reply to that is so is our staunch opposition.
“We don’t feel any different to the first time the company came knocking, except now we have experience dealing with its underhanded tactics.
“The company didn’t give us any reason to have faith in the process - it was sneaky and underhanded at every turn.”