“We will do whatever it takes,” an angry looking activist snarls to the camera.
“I’d like to see some of them in jail,” says a protest leader, presumably referring to company executives.
So begins the trailer for the latest activist anti-gas movie, ‘Sacrifice Zone’.
Judging by the movie trailer, self-righteous law-breaking by the protest movement has become a matter of pride – a badge of courage where law and order are irrelevant; conflict with police a part of the excitement. We watch as a young man proudly describes how his dad has taken to locking himself to trucks and machinery.
To justify this self-congratulatory anti-social attitude, activists and ‘Sacrifice Zone’ movie producers go full throttle on the melodrama. The sound track is deep, rumbling and clearly intended to be unsettling. Images are crafted to create a sense of danger.
And of course, there are the ongoing exaggerations, misleading claims and crass invective.
NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham is straight into the swing of it.
“They’ll pump their crap into the woods,” he snorts indignantly.
“They’ll pump their crap into the water supply. And they’ll pump their crap into YOU,” he says with extra emphasis on the word “you”.
It’s all rubbish, but if it serves to frighten people into supporting him and his Party, apparently it is worth it. Credibility is of little concern.
The movie has concluded filming and the producers are asking for donations to finish it. In the trailer introduction, a voice-over says the film will be “moving and scientifically rigorous”.
If the trailer is any guide, they ought to consider changing the title to ‘Zero sacrifice, zero science’. The participants are all intent on trashing fossil fuels and those who produce them, but how many would be prepared to do without the myriad products created from fossil fuels, including those of great importance to agriculture, such as fertiliser?
There is zero science in the trailer. There are plenty of claims, but each one is contestable; some are simply ludicrous.
“It’s pollution and corruption from top to bottom,” says a smug looking farmer protester.
These people appear to be re enjoying their time in front of the camera.
They claim to have 98% of people behind them in their campaign against the proposed natural gas development at Narrabri.
Yet 500 Narrabri locals made submissions to Government and most were in favour of the development. And the town’s total population is only about 4,000!
At the top of the list of spurious claims in the film is that the proposed coal-seam gas development in what Narrabri locals call the ‘Pilliga scrub’ will destroy the local water supply and permanently damage the Great Artesian Basin (GAB).
Water security and safety is undoubtedly an important issue.
Its importance has been acknowledged in the extensive work put into ensuring the project can proceed without impacting groundwater. The 7,000-page environmental impact statement lodged by project proponent Santos with the NSW Government goes into this in a great deal of detail.
A highly-respected former CSIRO hydrologist, Dr Richard Cresswell, was hired to assess the proposed activity and give his expert opinion. His conclusion: there is no threat to the GAB.
In fact, he notes that water will be drawn from the much deeper Gunnedah Basin and not from the GAB. Dr Cresswell also notes that the two aquifers are not connected.
In doing so, he debunks two more of the activist claims made in the movie trailer – and in countless public statements over the past two years or more.
Dr Cresswell scotches another common activist claim repeated in the tailer when he notes that the proposed Pilliga drilling area is not a significant recharge zone for the GAB.
The trailer also inaccurately slams Santos for a “long history of spills and environmental disasters”. This is nonsense. Protesters have made countless claims of environmental “disasters” to the NSW Environmental Protection Authority over the past 18 months. The EPA has investigated them all, and in most cases has found them to be either exaggerated or completely wrong.
The planned pipeline which will connect the Pilliga with the East Coast gas network is also described in the trailer as “another disaster in the making”. Never mind that there are thousands of kilometres of gas pipeline built and safely operating around Australia, as they have done for decades.
The pipeline technology is neither new, nor complicated; and the builders, in this case APA Group, are capable and highly experienced. The terrain is relatively flat and most of the 450km pipeline will be buried underground.
Perhaps it is appropriate for the trailer to leave the last, inaccurate word to actor turned activist Michael Caton, whose ‘castle’, incidentally, is nowhere near Narrabri.
After the gasfields are gone, “…what will be left behind?” he asks rhetorically.
“We will be left with a worked out quarry,” he declares emphatically. Really? Mr Caton seems to have his industries confused. But that probably just puts him in step with the confused content of the rest of the trailer.