Opinion: making it up as they go – activist surveys ignore the facts

June 24th, 2016

Lock The Gate is really having a lend of South Australians with its self-serving claims about supposed community concerns regarding shale gas development.

In its latest bluster disguised as research, the million dollar protest group says South Australians are concerned about the risks of developing shale gas resources, based on what they have seen in the Eastern States.

Goodness knows what examples the researchers were using.  The truth is the claim completely misses its mark, as the only developed Eastern State gas resources are in coal seams, not shale formations.

What makes the miss even more farcical is that South Australians do not need to look east to find examples of shale gas development  – it is right under their own feet, with Australia’s developed onshore shale resources in the Cooper Basin.

SA itself is in fact the proof point that  unconventional gas can be safely developed for the good of community and State, and can do so while co-existing with agriculture.

Unconventional gas has been pumped from the Cooper since the 1960s – without harm to land, water, man or beast.

For decades, drillers have safely dropped wells to access gas.  And for decades the well productivity has been enhanced by use of the well-understood and long mastered engineering technique which is hydraulic fracturing.

And the positive story does not stop there.  A farmer in the Cooper drilling area has long held a certification for growing organic beef – and his cattle are entirely comfortable grazing alongside the wells.

If these facts are not enough to sink the activist research, there are other relevant points.

For a start, SA is not alone in the safe development of natural gas resources, including many which use hydraulic fracturing.

NSW and Queensland have been safely doing it onshore, under tight regulations, more than a decade.  Victoria, WA and the NT have been safely doing it from offshore platforms since the 1960s.

Lock The Gate overlooks these important, but inconvenient facts whenever and wherever it conducts its so-called surveys.   Why?  Because it might get a very different result if it did actually enlighten people about the true history.

South Australia has a strong, safe history of gas development which has delivered enormous benefits to the State.

It is a history which stretches back 60 years, to the 1960s.  It is a history that includes employment  for tens of thousands of people and enormous economic benefits to the State.

For decades, the Cooper has been a lifeblood for the SA economy, providing affordable energy and valuable State ‘exports’ and important royalties for the Government to spend on social services for all South Australians.

But Lock The Gate surely wasn’t mentioning any of this history when it pushed out its latest self-serving survey to try to reinforce its own bias against natural gas development.



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