Lazarus unconventional gas inquiry needs to hear from industry

April 1st, 2016

Comment by ERIC Director Steve Wright

The next hearing of the Lazarus inquiry into unconventional gas will either be a case of ‘third time lucky’ or ‘three strikes – you’re out’.

The inquiry has had two days of hearings – in Queensland (a month ago) and New South Wales (this week) – and so far, not a word from the industry has been heard.

This silly situation is on the verge of becoming full farce.  If the committee does not give the industry an opportunity to speak when it conducts a hearing in Darwin, anticipated in the next few weeks, it will have been a total waste of time and taxpayers’ money.

The Northern Territory is almost totally reliant on natural gas for its power, in Darwin and regional centres.  Darwin LNG has been a big contributor to the NT economy, providing royalties, employment and export income to the NT for many years.   To fail to invite the views of the industry in the NT would be an indictment of the Committee and its commitment to genuine inquiry.

As we have noted previously, the first hearing in Dalby  was no more than a cavalcade of activist dogma – much of it having been shown in the past to be untrue or grossly overblown.

Despite the successful operation of the natural gas industry in Queensland the Lazarus committee apparently considered it unnecessary to seek the views of the industry in Dalby.

This week it made it two strikes, showing no interest in industry presentation its hearing in Narrabri, in northern NSW.

In fact, the committee seriously rankled locals in Narrabri by failing to invite the views of the Shire Council or any other local authority.

Were it not for the personal initiative of the local mayor and head of the chamber of commerce, there would have been no voice other than the very familiar activist groups Lock The Gate, the Wilderness Society, the Pilliga Push and so on.

You can read more about what happened at the Narrabri hearing here.

You will see the local project operator Santos was not invited to speak at the hearing.  Nor was the industry representative group APPEA, whose submission to the inquiry has not even been uploaded to the inquiry website, several weeks after having been lodged.

But there may be one very good reason the committee did not want to hear from Santos.  The inquiry is looking into unconventional gas extraction, and Santos has been clear from the start that the Narrabri resource is conventional; that is hydraulic fracturing (the element which defines unconventional gas extraction) will not be necessary.

So the committee travelled to NSW to hear activist protests about a proposed development that is actually outside the remit of the inquiry.

To further underline the obvious negative intention of this committee, appreciate  this:  the Senate committee had no time to hear from local authorities (who actually support the proposed development) in Narrabri but it did have time to hear from several protesters who travelled hundreds of kilometres south from the very area of Queensland the committee had conducted its first day of hearings a month earlier.  So, no unconventional gas to speak of, no time for industry or supportive local authorities, but time to hear from the same shrill voices which marked the earlier hearing, in another State.  Taxpayers and the Narrabri people deserved better.

If the same pattern occurs in Darwin, this committee will have had three strikes and badly wasted an opportunity to help people learn and better understand natural gas extraction, including the engineering process of hydraulic fracturing, which has been safely and successfully used by Santos in South Australia since the 1960s.

2 Comments

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  1. Bruce on 1 April, 2016 Reply

    Glen Lazarus should have stuck to what he knows – how to hurt people on the football field.
    No one in their right mind would call him for advice on an industry he knows nothing about, nor seemingly wants to know anything about – but he is only too happy to demonise it – does he secretly work for the Australian Institute?
    The guy and his trumped up committee of intellectual giants (excluding the liberals and the labor reps) already had made it well known that he is a captive of the Lock the Gate bullsyte, the Greens anti fossil fuel etc – but as a good hypocrite – gets on a plane or into a car (burning fossil fuel to get him to wherever he is going) to contribute to the very problem he professors to fix – Wow even calls oil and gas companies guilty of genocide ! – why would any one from industry want to make a submission or even want to appear in front of this Kangaroo Court?
    This committee was doomed as soon as this dikhead opened his mouth – Oh please can we have a double dissolution – he can go back to from whence he came from – what a Dikhead!

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  2. Bruce on 1 April, 2016 Reply

    Oh – and yes I played and represented in Rugby League where the average intelligence level was probably less than the average – but poor ol’ Glen was even less than that – Dikhead!

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