‘Good word’ for gas company

Sydney Morning Herald (Heath Aston), 2.1.2011

A STRING of Coalition MPs appears to have promoted the cause of a coal-seam gas company headed by former Nationals leader John Anderson.
Eastern Star Gas, chaired by the deputy prime minister in the Howard government, has been favourably mentioned in speeches in the NSW Parliament by at least two Nationals MPs and a Liberal member.

Government sources claim some Nationals members have also acted as ”unpaid lobbyists” for Eastern Star in private, seeking meetings with senior officials, right up to the Premier, Kristina Keneally.

A letter obtained by The Sun-Herald shows Nationals MP Kevin Humphries requested an ”urgent meeting with the Premier” on behalf of Eastern Star. In it, Mr Humphries said the company wanted to brief Ms Keneally on the ”future of the gas industry in NSW”.

Mr Humphries told The Sun-Herald he was not acting on behalf of Eastern Star in requesting the meeting but on behalf of the fledgling NSW coal-seam gas industry.

”It was to ask to provide a briefing to government by the company on the state of the industry in NSW compared to Queensland, not to promote Eastern Star Gas,” he said.

”The Queensland gas industry is light years ahead of us in NSW because of the government support in Queensland for the industry.”

Mr Humphries’s seat of Barwon – the second biggest in NSW – covers areas such as Gunnedah and Narrabri, where Eastern Star explores for, and drills for, coal-seam gas.

Eastern Star, formed in 2000, donated a total of $22,850 to the Coalition in 2009, documents lodged with the Election Funding Authority show.


Leave a Reply

No Comments »