Energy prices and energy security have been in the news for many months now. While this issue is very complex, the debate about causes and solutions has been marred by erroneous claims and blame-shifting by politicians. This has done little to enlighten the electorate or solve the problems the nation faces.
The security/price problem exists because successive governments from both major parties have failed to understand the impact of the technological change and to plan properly for the future.
Added to this is the failure, particularly by the Federal Government, to understand community opposition to coal seam gas (CSG) mining and fracking and the threats this industry poses to agriculture, clean water, the natural environment and human health. Communities in the NSW Northern Rivers and elsewhere have learnt from overseas and Queensland just how invasive and damaging this industry is.
The Federal Government’s concern about domestic gas availability and price have led to it planning to restrict exports when there is a local shortage. It has also called on states such as NSW and Victoria to open up their states to CSG and unconventional gas mining.
Unsurprisingly the export restriction plan has annoyed the extremely profitable companies exporting huge quantities of Australian gas. One of their spokespersons, former federal politician Ian Macfarlane, now Queensland Resources Council CEO, supports the government’s call to remove bans on CSG and unconventional gas mining in NSW and Victoria. That gas could then be used domestically without affecting the industry’s exports. Furthermore Macfarlane suggested states not lifting bans should be penalised by getting a smaller GST share.
Lock the Gate’s National Coordinator, Carmel Flint, said this was an extraordinary attempt by the mining and resource sector to undermine the “democratic distribution of our taxes”. She also pointed out that sixty percent of large energy and resource companies pay no corporate tax in Australia and that it was disgraceful that they should attempt to influence how taxes were spent in order to promote their industry.
Whatever the Federal Government and the big mining companies want, opposition to CSG and unconventional gas mining won’t go away.
- Leonie Blain