Greens refer special treatment deal with Santos to ICAC

MEDIA RELEASE – 21 February 2014

Stoner & Nationals bannerThe Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham today said he would refer the Memorandum of Understanding between the NSW Government and coal seam gas company Santos to the Independent Commission Against Corruption saying that the declaration that the project would be fast-tracked as a ‘Strategic Energy Project’ undermined the integrity of the planning and assessment process.

“How can the public have any confidence that the planning process for this huge coal seam gas project will have objectivity or integrity given the government’s stated intention to fast-track it,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The National Party received $25,000 in political donations from Santos in the past two years, with another $95,000 from APPEA and other coal seam gas interests.  Barry O’Farrell’s promise to rid NSW of the ‘decisions for donations’ culture is looking very flimsy in light of this decision.”

“The community feels the government has taken sides and that while Santos may have to go through the motions of the planning process, their approval is all but guaranteed now.”

“What is not guaranteed, however, is that the gas from a future gas field will supply the NSW domestic market.

“On ABC New England radio this morning, Santos spokesman Peter Mitchley refused to guarantee that the gas would be supplied for NSW domestic use.  The language in the Memorandum of Understanding is completely ambiguous, only saying that the project ‘could’ supply gas into NSW with no actual commitment to sell to certain users.

“Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner has bought a pig in a bag. He has undermined the integrity of the planning process, without any guarantee it will be used for domestic gas supply.

“Coal seam gas is all about supplying the three LNG export terminals at Gladstone, Queensland.  Santos plans to re-direct conventional gas from South Australia from Sydney to Gladstone starting in July this year.

“Any gas shortage is an artificial creation and if government’s were serious about securing domestic supply they would regulate to reserve conventional gas supplies in the national interest before allowing exports of LNG.

“If Santos are allowed to get a foot in the door then not only will we see water resources, farms and ecologies in the Pilliga put at risk, but we can expect the entire north-west of NSW to become industrialised.

“The Nationals will be responsible for coal seam gas creeping out like a virus onto farmlands as unconventional gas extraction requires continual expansion as gas wells run dry,” he said.

Contact: Jack Gough – 9230 2202 or 0427 713 101

2 comments

  • Patricia McCalden

    Good work Jeremy. I believe that by referring decisions to the PAC, the decision on the Santos application can be challenged only in terms of the legal process, not the merits of the case. As long as the company goes through the formalities of fulfilling the requirements of the EIS, the quality and quantity of evidence produced is of no importance. This was the case when AGL’s Gloucester Project was referred to the PAC by MacDonald.
    Best wishes
    Patricia McCalden

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  • While you’re at it please ask ICAC to investigate the massive infrastructure building currently underway in the Pilliga. If this project is still subject to “stringent environmental regulations” before approval can be given, why all the pipelines? Why the massive water holding facilities, just for the “exploratory phase”? It’s a joke. As far as Santos is concerned they’re already home and hosed.

    I must also add how heartening it is to hear one politician standing up against this project. I am a local of the Pilliga area and live on a farm, local anger is growing and will keep on growing over the government’s arrogant dismissal of concerns over the future of our groundwater health. Without healthy groundwater this entire area will not exist in habitable form, let alone economically viable form.

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