Federal Leader of The Nationals Warren Truss outlines a blueprint for coal seam
gas development in Australia.
“The Nationals adopted a coal seam gas policy at our Federal Council Meeting in
August, and on Friday we finalised a set of principles at a federal
parliamentary party room meeting in Cooma to implement that policy,” Mr Truss
said on 6th November, 2011.
“The Nationals’ approach to the development of Australia’s
coal seam gas resources is based on five core principles:
* No coal seam gas development should proceed where it poses a significant
impact to the quality of groundwater or surface water systems. It must be
absolutely clear that no coal seam gas development should occur unless it is
proven safe for the environment.
* Prime agricultural land is an increasingly important natural asset. It must be
protected from activities that destroy its capacity to deliver food security –
not only for our nation, but for a hungrier world, for generations to come.
* Coal seam gas development must not occur close to existing residential areas.
People who have bought a home, with a
reasonable expectation of being away from mining operations, must not be thrown
into turmoil coal seam gas operations springing up on their doorstep.
* Landowners are entitled to appropriate pecuniary returns sourced by reason of
access to their land. Remuneration for landowners should not be limited to
* The regions that deliver much of the wealth from coal seam gas developments
deserve to see a fair share of generated revenues reinvested in their
communities. This is an opportunity to grow our nation and encourage a lasting
legacy from coal seam gas developments.
“Coal seam gas development requires a comprehensive policy approach that
addresses the environmental, community and economic impacts of the industry. The
principles we have decided take a measured, rational and balanced approach to
the industry and its management.
“Managed properly, coal seam gas has the potential to revitalise parts of
regional Australia, delivering a new economic boom. Poorly managed, it could
become an environmental and social disaster.
“Shortly, The Nationals will launch a discussion paper on specific policy
options to achieve these core principles.
“Political differences must be put aside to ensure that regional Australia gets
the best deal from coal seam gas and our environment is properly protected.
“That said The Nationals are concerned by an Independent push to amend the
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, with proposed changes
being too broad in scope and likely to impose yet more red tape and bureaucracy
“The Nationals agree that new bio-regional studies will inform part of the
response to managing the coal seam gas industry, but right now a more
comprehensive policy approach is essential.
“There is no doubt that the environment must be protected, but so do the
economic development imperatives of regional Australia and the legitimate rights
“Unless regional communities are engaged as partners, and have something to
gain, in the development of the coal seam gas industry, they will not support it
– let alone on their land.
“Without winning widespread support from regional communities, coal seam gas
development will not occur. The need to earn a social licence is a reality the
coal seam gas industry and governments must come to grips with.
“The state governments have primary responsibility for the approval and
supervision of the coal seam gas industry and The Nationals recognise the role
and efforts of state governments in dealing with this issue. However, the stakes
are so high for regional Australia that federal leadership is demanded –
something the Gillard government has lacked.
“For regional Australians, we recognise that coal seam gas poses opportunities
and risks. We must ensure the benefits of this emerging boom protect the
environment. That means balancing the needs of mining companies, landowners and
“Meeting those needs and spreading the benefits will help to underwrite support
for the industry and ensure that it delivers regional Australia, and the nation,
a lasting legacy beyond the 35-year life of a coal seam gas well.”
Nationals face pressure on coal seam gas donations
February 7, 2014 Donations to the National Party
from coal seam gas companies have risen tenfold in four years. But the party is
not required to disclose the majority of donations it receives from the gas
industry under electoral funding laws.
Over the past two years, the Nationals accepted more than $25,000 from Santos -
the company that wants to supply a quarter of New South Wales' gas needs through
Political funding data released by the Australian Electoral Commission on Monday
shows the party of the land also took donations from Queensland-based Arrow
Energy, Chevron and industry peak body, the Australian Petroleum Production &
Exploration Association, totalling nearly $95,000.
In the previous two years, the industry had donated just $4950 in total.
A review of AEC records reveals the majority of donations to the Nationals were
not publicly disclosed by the party.
An AEC spokesman said individual donations of less than $12,100 do not have to
be declared by political parties.
Santos made 13 separate donations in the past two years, ranging up to $5200.
None were disclosed by the Nationals. The company donated $151,000 to Liberal
and LNP parties. But the relationship with miners is far more politically
perilous for the Nationals than its Coalition partner amid an increasingly
bitter campaign against CSG in many farming communities.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, whose New England electorate incorporates
the food-producing Liverpool Plains, is under immense pressure to stand up for
landowners against the gas industry.
Fairfax Media revealed this week that Mr Joyce had told a local anti-CSG group
that development of the Liverpool Plains would be ''catastrophic'' and
''disastrous''. He has written to NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell on behalf of the
group, the Mullaley Gas & Pipeline Accord, asking him to consider their request
to make the Liverpool Plains ''off-limits to any CSG infrastructure''.
Greens senator Lee Rhiannon said: ''How can regional communities take the
Nationals seriously on protecting our farmland when they are in the pocket of
the coal seam gas industry?''
National Party director Scott Mitchell did not return repeated calls for