In the wake of the recent death of anti-CSG farmer George Bender, Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche has released a statement sharing facts about the gas industry.
Mr Roche said he was saddened by the tragic suicide of the farmer, who was one of the first farmers to protest the gas industry in the Darling Downs, but feels the death has been “hijacked” by anti-gas activists.
“There is no disputing the fact that the late George Bender was not a supporter of the developing gas industry in the Darling Downs region. Neither is there any dispute that he was passionate about farming and the importance of protecting farming in his region,” Mr Roche said.
“George often made his views known to the Queensland Resources Council forcefully and directly. If he saw or heard something I had said in the media with which he disagreed he was not afraid to jump on the phone and let us know. These conversations tended to conclude with us agreeing to disagree, but he was always prepared to debate our view.
“We are saddened by his death but we are not going to join in the claims and conjecture about his tragic passing and his state of mind. We fully respect the perspectives shared by his family in their moving statement last week. They have our sincere condolences for their loss.
“However, since George’s death that public debate has been hijacked by some people – professional anti-gas activists, certain politicians and a Sydney shock jock – who are far from pure in their motives. Some in the media have been happy to give these people free rein, unconstrained by facts.”
Mr Roche said instead of relying on the anti-gas group Lock the Gate for “their sole point of truth and media talent”, some simple research efforts will uncover the facts about how the gas industry and its water impacts and land access are regulated.
“The Queensland Water Act sets down very clearly the obligations of gas tenure holders to ‘make good’ impairment of private bore supplies that result from gas activities. This ‘make good’ requirement may be achieved by making alterations to the bore, establishing a replacement water supply, or by some other measure, which is agreed in advance,” he said.
“Gas companies have fully complied with those requirements, including for some stock bores on one of Mr Bender’s properties which had not been used for more than a decade.
“These ‘make good’ requirements are all clearly explained on multiple websites including the Queensland Government’s Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment, the Queensland Gasfields Commission and peak industry body AgForce.”
There has also been much heat and very little light on the issue of land access, Mr Roche said.
“Queensland introduced the Land Access Framework in 2010 that provides for a mandated agreement between landholders and resource companies on how resource activities will be conducted and impacts compensated for,” he said.
“Under the Land Access Code there have been more than 4,500 conduct and compensation agreements struck between gas companies and landholders and it is believed that there have been only 2 gas cases ever referred to the Land Court.
“There has never been any gas infrastructure on George Bender’s properties.”
The QRC have provided the following infograph, which shows in 2014-15 the Queensland gas industry contributed $22 billion directly and indirectly to the Queensland economy, representing seven per cent of the state’s entire gross regional product.