Peter Reith strong on fear, short on facts

1 November 2013

Friends of the Earth media release

Peter Reith’s long awaited report to the Victorian government about the eastern gas market will be handed to the government today. While the Premier has not yet said if he will release the report to the public, Mr Reith has made the contents clear in multiple media interviews.

“Mr Reith is using the spectre of an imminent gas crisis, job loss, rising prices, and the potential collapse of our manufacturing sector to scare the Victorian people into accepting his argument that we must start drilling for unconventional gas as soon as possible” said Friends of the Earth campaigns co-ordinator Cam Walker.

“He paints a remarkably naive picture of the industry, where farmers in Queensland are ‘happy’ and a ‘well managed’ industry has revived regional centres. The true picture is far more complex, with known contamination of water and grave health concerns in places like Tara on the Darling Downs.”

“Gas prices will go up as we start to compete with the global market. This is because the federal and state governments have aggressively pushed the development of an export gas industry, regardless of the social and environmental costs. Mr Reith neglects to mention that unconventional gas is very expensive to produce because of the fact that methane is trapped in coal or rock seams. It will not save us from higher gas prices. Victoria has several decades worth of offshore conventional gas available, and by the time that runs out, we must have transitioned from reliance on fossil fuels to meet our energy needs”.

“Mr Reith’s arguments are full of obvious flaws. Densely populated Gippsland cannot be compared with inland Queensland. He doesn’t say where the massive quantities of water will come from that will be needed for fracking. He denies the many well documented contamination events that have occurred around the world.”

“It is heartening to hear the Premier’s promise that there will be extensive community consultation before any decision is taken on this industry. We will also need data from an independent source to be able to decide if such an industry will be safe for people, land and water. The way to get this is through a state government inquiry: a proposal that the Coalition has twice voted against”.

“Until we know what the community wants, and until we have the information to be able to decide if this industry can be safe and compatible with farming, the Premier must show leadership and extend the moratorium on coal seam gas to cover all exploration activity for all onshore gas. He must also rule out any further coal allocation.”

Lock the Gate Victoria co-ordinator Ursula Alquier said “we know from our work with regional communities that any proposal to expand coal or unconventional gas operations will be deeply unpopular. The Coalition ignores this strong community concern at its peril.”

Further comment

Cam Walker 0419 338 047
Ursula Alquier 0499 991 324