People in New South Wales are being comprehensively misled by activists hell-bent on stopping a badly needed natural gas development at Narrabri, in the State’s north-west.
Land destruction, property value reduction and lack of economic benefit are three of the most common misleading claims – but research in Queensland and NSW has shown them to be false claims.
We have previously mentioned the bullying tactics employed by protesters – many from out of town – in Narrabri and the Pilliga.
In nearby Coonamble, pipeline survey work has been disrupted by protesters confecting trespass claims and threatening the safety of properly authorised workers.
Now the best efforts of Government and pipeline planners to consult community groups are being interrupted by threats of protester ambush.
The activist assertions at the heart of these protests and threatened disruptions are examples of false claims which have been circulated for years. They include that natural gas will ruin farming land and destroy land values, with no economic benefit.
One needs only to look at the US example to see how truly misguided are these claims. The US is enjoying a job-creating, price lowering economic boom on the back of natural gas development. And that is with virtually none of the enormous export income benefits that we in Australia are reaping.
Farming land has not been destroyed in the US, property values have risen and so have the incomes of farmers and farming communities.
The enduring benefits of coal-seam gas development in south-western Queensland have been well documented, in terms of jobs, incomes and property values. Not only are all three categories up in the Queensland gas-development areas, but previously contracting regional towns such as Roma, Dalby and Chinchilla have been given a serious boost, and the young-person drift to Brisbane has been curtailed.
The property value question has been addressed in NSW as well – with a similar finding.
A recent report by GISERA has reinforced the earlier studies in Queensland, finding that the incomes picture is also brighter in gas development areas.
The GISERA study found that CSG regions had an average of 6.47% higher median personal incomes and 6.31% higher family incomes than regions without CSG development.
Additionally, the report found these higher income figures independently of other economic benefits such as “changes in rural income patterns, agricultural profitability, differences in human capital productivity, and changes in the prices of minerals”.
It is well established in south-west Queensland that many farmers are very happy to have additional income from hosting gas wells without interruption to their usual farming or grazing activities. Many also note the benefits of improved fences, gates and access roads, as well as, in some cases, access to previously unavailable irrigation water.
An irrigation water trial is underway as part of the proposed Narrabri project.