Queensland gas reservation policy is all smoke and mirrors

Published: June 03, 2019

Reserving one fifth of gas production for domestic use will do little to reduce high prices and will further disadvantage Queensland farmers whose land is being opened up to the coal seam gas industry, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.

Today, the Queensland Government announced it would open more land in fertile farming country on the Western Downs to invasive CSG mining, and justified it by stating the gas produced would be reserved for domestic use.

The government boasts it had reserved one-fifth of land released to gas mining for domestic consumption in the past four years. Yet one-third of all gas produced on the eastern seaboard is needed to match the east coast domestic need, showing Qld was still giving too much gas away to exporters.

There is also no guarantee companies will sell gas produced on these domestic-only tenements for less than the current high price. The gas price has been inflated ever since Australia was linked to the international market via export the three Gladstone export terminals.

Western Downs grazier Glenn Beasley said Queensland’s food and fibre production was suffering due to the unrelenting expansion of the CSG industry.

“It is a travesty that the Palaszczuk Government continues to encourage gas miners when our water bores are being drained, the amount of land we can use is being reduced, and local industry is still paying through the nose for our own gas,” he said.

“There is also the unresolved issue of waste from the CSG industry.

“There are plans for a massive CSG waste dump upstream from where I draw my stock water. The risk of contamination, not only from salt, but from all the other toxins, is a continuing biosecurity risk for myself and primary producers downstream in the Condamine River and beyond.

“What’s more, we know that for every 10 people employed in the gas industry, we lose 18 from agriculture.

“This is not a government for Queenslanders, it is a government for the big gas companies.”

Lock the Gate Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith called on the State Government to protect Queensland’s interests by curtailing gas production in favour of renewable energy sources.

“Last week, gas giant ConocoPhillips announced plans to use a battery for its Darwin LNG plant, ironically illustrating the extent to which renewable energy sources are now cheaper than fossil fuels.

“The only way to break the stranglehold gas companies have over Australians now is if we move away from gas towards renewables,” she said.

“Every new CSG well adds to the damage we have already done to our precious Great Artesian Basin and agricultural industries that depend on it. Given we know that even reserving gas for domestic use won’t bring prices down, we have to simply stop this crazy gas expansion and look to alternatives.”

Ms Smith said gas consumption was also falling in Australia, due in part to exorbitant export-driven prices, as well as the increasing appeal of renewables as a cheaper source of power.

“The other reason gas consumption is falling in Australia is that we are using less for gas powered fire stations than expected, challenging this notion that gas is needed as a ‘transition fuel’. Renewables and storage are cheaper than gas power now,” she said.  

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Content on this site is authorised by Georgina Woods for Lock the Gate Alliance, Lismore NSW.