ABC TV - Lateline Business - 30.11.2011
The long-awaited interim report into the coal seam gas inquiry was released today and it doesn’t make for easy reading for regulators or the industry. The recommendations from the Senate inquiry for the Federal Government to ruminate over for the next two months could fetter the industry considerably.
Earlier I spoke to the inquiry’s chairman and one of the only federal politicians to have mud on his boots, farmer and senator, Bill Heffernan.
“Senator Heffernan, you’ve been a long-time critic of what you called “cowboy regulation” in this sector. Just how much scrutiny do you believe went into the potential risks for coal seam gas before the Queensland Government handed out those three big licences?”
BILL HEFFERNAN, LIBERAL SENATOR: “Most definitely a simple answer: not enough.
I mean, the Government’s own advice, which is a document that we tabled – one of their latest series of advice, which is dated 2006, pointed to some of the issues which have not been addressed, and obviously the incentive of a royalty line and an expansion of capital in Gladstone, 10,000 jobs, etc., was an inducement the Government obviously was taken over with.
But against the knowledge that we’ve found from a clean sheet of paper when we started – bear in mind this is an interim report – that the consideration of things – what do you do with a million tonnes of salt a year? What do you do with de-watered aquifers? – that they proposed money would make good, I think was quite irresponsible.”
Read full transcript, and watch the program: