08 Nov 2017

When it comes to energy policy, just whose side are our politicians on?

Do they support hard-working families and businesses? A stronger economy and more jobs?

Or are they willing to sell out Queenslanders in order to win favor with special interests like GetUp! and a cabal of foreign-funded activist groups who, frankly, don’t care about power prices and local jobs.

At stake in this election is whether Queensland – through its world-class agriculture, mining and natural gas industries – can continue to benefit from its abundant natural resources.

When it comes to gas, the activists are pushing to lock up vast areas of Western Queensland, making it impossible for exploration and development to occur.

Already we have seen Lock the Gate demanding politicians stop the gas industry’s “invasion” of regional areas like the Cooper Basin in far-western Queensland.

What Lock the Gate neglects to mention is that the gas industry has been co-existing with farmers in the region for over 40 years. Indeed, the Cooper provides 14 per cent of Queensland’s gas.

While the activists talk of protecting the channel country, they are really against traditional energy. There is no room for fossil fuels in their perfect world. Just ask South Australians how that worked out during last summer’s blackout.

Natural gas has strong local support. Last year, gas operations in and around the Cooper supported more than 2,100 jobs and generated more than $400 million worth of economic activity. Recently, the South West Local Government Association issued a statement saying: “Our resource industries are vitally important to our communities especially Quilpie, Bulloo and Maranoa.”

Restricting access to gas supply can only mean higher energy prices for Queensland families and businesses. Is this really what our political leaders want?

When One Nation recently threatened to lock the gas industry out of the Cooper, the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines warned the proposal “would deny Queensland industry and Queensland jobs almost decades of gas supply.”

That wasn’t an exaggeration. The Minister knows that Queensland companies are looking to develop new gas projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars in the Cooper. That investment, and the new jobs it would bring, is now at risk.

Tim Nicholls’ Opposition has been equally supportive.

At a time when we are being told there is a national energy crisis, it’s hugely concerning that some politicians are considering turning off the tap. Are they willing to kill jobs and investment, undermine energy security and drive up power prices in the misguided belief this will win votes?

Appeasing the activists is rarely successful. They will always demand more. They will never be happy until our resource and farming sectors are shut down.

Let’s hope common sense prevails. Let’s hope our political leaders puts Queenslanders first and tells the activists to shut the gate…on their way out.

First published in Queensland Country Life, 9 November.