Cross­benchers want Royal Com­mis­sion to in­ves­ti­gate

Balonne Beacon - - FRONT PAGE - Mar­guerite Cud­dihy Mar­guerite.Cud­dihy@west­ern­

IN­DE­PEN­DENT MP Bob Kat­ter has formed an unlikely al­liance with the Greens in an at­tempt to see a com­mis­sion of in­quiry in­ves­ti­gate the coal seam gas in­dus­try.

The Com­mis­sion of In­quiry Coal Seam Gas Bill 2017 will fo­cus on the ne­go­ti­at­ing pow­ers of par­ties in­volved, im­pacts on land, wa­ter and com­mu­ni­ties, agree­ment mak­ing, and pay­ment for dam­ages and com­pli­ance.

The bill re­sponds to con­cerns raised about the con­duct of CSG com­pa­nies and their ne­go­ti­a­tions with landown­ers, along with in­ad­e­qua­cies in the gov­ern­ment com­pli­ance pro­cesses.

Mr Kat­ter didn’t hold back when he pre­sented his bill to par­lia­ment.

“The ugli­est garbage dump and cesspool will be un­cov­ered if this bill pro­ceeds,” he said.

“There will be a lot of peo­ple of the main­stream par­ties who will be fight­ing tooth and nail to avoid this from hap­pen­ing.”

Mr Kat­ter said more than 2000 for­mal com­plaints had been reg­is­tered against the in­dus­try.

“That’s 2000 com­plaints and not one sin­gle ac­tion by the ALP and LNP gov­ern­ments.

“There are peo­ple that have made ‘squil­lions’ of dol­lars out of this. The re­la­tion­ship be­tween gov­ern­ment and CSG needs to be put un­der the spot­light.”

Chin­chilla cat­tle­man Kane Booth, who is cur­rently em­broiled in a le­gal bat­tle with QGC about in­fra­struc­ture on his farm, joined Mr Kat­ter in par­lia­ment as he in­tro­duced the bill.

Mr Booth said the Com­mis­sion of In­quiry would make the gov­ern­ment hold big gas com­pa­nies ac­count­able.

“It’s about com­pli­ance,” he said.

“It’s a mas­sive im­bal­ance – how can one per­son or farmer stand up against multi-bil­lion dol­lar com­pa­nies? We just can’t com­pete with the le­gal teams.

“As a farmer your hands are tied... Much of our sta­tion will now be in a per­ma­nent man-made drought.”

Mr Booth broke down in front of me­dia as he re­called the toll the last six years had taken on his fam­ily and friends.

“It’s hard for us farm­ers. I have spent $500,000 in legals.

“You can’t get these peo­ple into court. “Who is going to help? “There is no one to help or keep these peo­ple ac­count­able.

“The State Gov­ern­ment has ac­knowl­edged the breaches to the En­vi­ron­men­tal Au­thor­i­ties and ac­knowl­edged that there is po­ten­tial di­ver­sion of the over­land flow across the en­tire Su­rat Basin but have taken no ac­tion. Many prop­er­ties are now ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a man-made drought.

“You know when Adam Bandt, leader of the Greens and Bob fight to­gether, two who sel­dom agree, this must be se­ri­ous.

“These peo­ple have to be held ac­count­able for the dev­as­ta­tion they have caused in the en­tire Su­rat Basin and they need to re­view these peo­ple from an un­bi­ased in­de­pen­dent body.”


COM­MIS­SION OF IN­QUIRY: Chin­chilla cat­tle­man Kane Booth and MP Bob Kat­ter ad­dress the me­dia about the CSG Bill.

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