Lock the Gate Alliance has described the Morrison Government’s latest attempt to use a fracking-industry influenced report to foist unconventional gas on farmers and communities across the country as like putting a filter on a cigarette and saying it’s safe.
The government this morning released its Geological and Bioregional Assessment Program report (GBA), which focuses on exploiting gas basins in Queensland and South Australia’s iconic Lake Eyre Basin and the Northern Territory’s Beetaloo and Macarthur basins.
Lock the Gate Alliance National Coordinator Naomi Hogan said it was difficult to trust the report, given gas companies like Santos and Beach Energy were on panels that made many of the key decisions on what would be investigated (eg see page 153 of Cooper GBA: Stage 2 Baseline Analysis).
The gas industry-funded wing of the CSIRO - GISERA - was also heavily involved.
“If you dusted this research for fingerprints, you’d find the gas industry’s greasy paws all over it,” Ms Hogan said.
“The report actually admits fracking poses risks to some really iconic Australian landscapes that should be protected, but then jumps to greenlight fracking as if it was a predetermined outcome.
“We’ve already seen so much bulldust from this gas-obsessed government, it’s difficult to take anything they say about the industry seriously.
“Farmers and communities in places like Southern Queensland, the Kimberley, and Northern NSW, who have already witnessed unconventional gas operations drain and contaminate aquifers, know this industry isn’t worth it.
“Even this latest report shows fracking isn’t safe if you read the detail - it shows the famous Mataranka Springs are connected to the same aquifers that would be drilled by fracking companies looking to drill in the Northern Territory.
“Interestingly, it also reveals for the first time that the endangered Gulf Snapping Turtle is present in the rivers near Borroloola, where Empire Energy wants to drill and frack.
“In the Lake Eyre Basin, the report acknowledges that the scale and location of the proposed gas development is highly uncertain and that the effects of climate change are poorly understood in that context."
Russell Bennie, a farmer from Cecil Plains on the Darling Downs in Queensland, inherited an exploration gas well on his property and has been fighting the industry for years.
He said a report influenced by gas companies and promoted by a government hell bent on gas would do nothing to reassure farmers.
“All we want is a level playing field - at the moment it’s like an ant trying to take down a skyscraper,” he said.
“There have been serious omissions from gas companies concerning the impacts they have caused in our region over the last 20 years that they have been operating.
"Subsidence is an example - both the industry and government failed to identify it as a risk and it was left up to farmers to raise concerns after experiencing it on their properties.
“It’s not possible to greenlight this industry because they still don’t know what they’re doing after so many years.
“We’re just trying to run a business here. Rather than promoting gas and fracking, the government should be protecting farmers who refuse to let this insidious industry on their properties.”