The family of anti-CSG farmer George Bender have responded to a statement released by the Queensland Resources Council yesterday, which said the farmers death had been “hijacked” by activist groups, before offering some facts about the benefits of the gas industry on the state.
The Bender family said QRC is using spin and dodgy figures to try to rewrite history regarding the CSG industry’s treatment of the Chinchilla farmer. George’s wife Pam said she was furious that the QRC chief executive Michael Roche had tried to “gloss over” the treatment of the family over 10 years by all coal seam gas companies and the underground coal gasification (UCG) company, Linc Energy.
“CSG industries hounded and bullied George for 10 years,” she said.
“The State Government ignored our pleas for help and it’s disgraceful that the Premier still hasn’t agreed to meet us.
“We need to make sure that George’s death was not in vain and that the Premier will do something now to make sure other desperate farmers and landholders are helped before it’s too late for them too.”
Spokesperson for the Hopeland Sustainability Community Group Shay Dougall said the people of Queensland and Australia are finally hearing what the Bender family and others dealing with CSG mining had had to endure for many years.
“The CSG industry, QRC and the State Government have all ignored us and used us as collateral damage,” Mrs Dougall said.
“The CSG industry is trashing people’s lives, farmland, water and health and it’s got to stop right now. People must have the right to say ‘no’ to mining on Queensland’s precious farmland.”
The QRC figures stated in 2014-15 the Queensland gas industry contributed $22 billion directly and indirectly to the Queensland economy, representing 7 per cent of the state’s entire gross regional product. They also said the industry supported an estimated 114,000 jobs and purchased goods and services from 3600 Queensland businesses.
The Australia Institute’s Mark Ogge disputed the QRC’s figures, and said the gas industry is a “tiny employer” in Queensland, and in Australia.
“According to the Office of the Chief Economist of Australia, based on figures supplied by the gas industry itself, with the end of the LNG construction boom the gas industry in Queensland will employ around 3000 people, less than one fifth of one per cent of the Queensland workforce,” he said.
“Many of these are not new jobs as the gas industry tends to poach skilled workers from other industries rather than training people itself.
“Unlike other Queensland industries, the gas industry spends very little in the state economy. For example, the giant LNG terminals at Gladstone were designed in Houston New Deli and Shanghai and built in the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand, and floated over to Australia.
“This is an industry that likes to quote big numbers, but most of that income flows straight overseas.”