Keep the gas in the bag
The public meeting in Gunnedah on Wednesday exemplifies the growing wave of opinion, led by local landholders but increasingly backed by regional townspeople, environmentalists and the inevitable radio personalities, against coal seam gas mining. The issue is a populist’s dream: small landholders against big miners, idyllic rural landscape under threat from poisonous industrial processes.
But if it comes to a choice, food must win out over energy.
If the choice does become necessary, it should not be made by default.
Decisions to exploit energy resources must not be made prematurely so that they pre-empt the decision to protect the best agricultural land in a continent where it is in short supply.
There should be no hurry. There is reason to believe Australia already has too many coal seam gas projects being developed all at once. It is time to pause. The gas does not degrade if it stays in the ground. There is plenty of time to devise a course of action which balances all interests.