Coal Seam Gas
Dear Coal Seam Gas,
I had high hopes, I really did. My friends told me you were the clean and safe energy source of the future. You promised heaps of new jobs. Best of all, you promised to co-exist peacefully and profitably with farmland. I couldn’t wait to meet you.
But things started to go wrong as soon as you arrived. I had imagined maybe some dinner and some conversation, a chance to get to know you. But instead you just marched into Queensland and started drilling, without answering even half my questions. In fact, there are still questions you haven’t answered.
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There’s a meaty little stink out of northern New South Wales this week which is dividing a community in two, and which could easily have, ahem, high steaks for the entire country.
After this May’s annual Beef Week parade in the NSW town of Casino, the Beef Week committee voted unanimously to ban protestors from future parades. This, despite just three of the 60 floats being protest floats.
Two floats protested the threatened closure of small local hospitals. A third opposed the coal seam gas (CSG) extraction industry. By all accounts, many townsfolk supported its sentiments. The president of Beef Week was less hospitable. It just so happens he is employed in the CSG industry.
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I’ve been told that some people don’t associate the Greens with money, people or facts. So I’m starting this piece on the Great Barrier Reef with some facts about money and people:
5.1 billion dollars. This is how much Great Barrier Reef tourism contributes to the Australian economy every year.
54,000. That’s how many people are employed full-time in Great Barrier Reef industries, mostly tourism.
3 million. That’s the number of visitors who come to see this World Heritage icon every year, about 2.1 million domestic and nearly 900,000 international visitors to gateway towns.
5 billion dollars. This is the Government’s estimated value of the “ecosystem services” the Reef provides every year – cleaner air, cleaner water. And we get it for free.
Extraordinary, isn’t it? And this awesome economic powerhouse is just sitting on the doorstep of Queensland. Here are some more Great Barrier Reef numbers, which you might find extraordinary for different reasons:
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Today The Punch team has each selected two issues which get us hot under the collar, and which we feel deserve more airplay.
What are your thoughts on the issues we’ve chosen? And what other issues do you think we should all be talking about?
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This week’s mess in the Pilliga Forest of New South Wales, is the latest evidence of an extremely messy industry.
Communities remain divided over coal seam gas. Especially in Queensland, where it’s splitting votes in the lead up to the state election.
A Newspoll published in The Australian last week found that two-thirds of voters were completely opposed to coal seam gas, with 35 per cent of people claiming that how the state chose to handle the issue would have direct impact on the way they vote in on March 24.
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Watching a Test match is a great teacher of the virtues that make for success in life: determination, strategy and simply keeping your eye on the ball.
Anyone watching India knows that they are beating Australia hands down at all three. India is set to win while the complacent, lucky country seems sure to waste its natural advantages.
Obviously, after the events at the MCG yesterday, I am talking not of cricket, but of energy security.
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Roma, some 600km west of Brisbane, used to be a country town where you could drive your car onto the airport tarmac to pick up friends arriving on the few flights servicing the place.
It had a small motel many years ago when I lived there but most travellers stayed at pubs with names such as The School of Arts.
The population back all those decades ago when sheep and cattle ruled was nudging 5000. Compared to some of the neighbouring towns such as Injune and Wallumbilla, it was a big place.
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You get the feeling not much happens on a Saturday morning in Merriwa. The sleepy country town in the Upper Hunter region of New South Wales just hums along quietly. Except for its proud and tidy RSL, where the front bar opens at 10am, horse races flash across the television screens and tickets pump out of the Club Keno machine.
In a stuffy back hall, on neat rows of red vinyl chairs sit the Merriwa Healthy Environment Group; a group of local farmers and landowners who came together in February to unite against the coal seam gas companies as they rode into town. Seven months later, they feel under attack.
Their enemy? PEL 456, PEL 468, PEL 4 and PEL 433; coal seam gas exploration licences for Merriwa and its surrounding areas of cattle, sheep and cereal farming land, up for sale to the highest bidder.
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