Katter bill puts CSG industry in spotlight
INDEPENDENT MP Bob Katter has formed an unlikely alliance with the Greens in an attempt to instigate a commission of inquiry to 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 last week.
"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,” Mr Katter said.
"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 over 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 past 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,” he said.
"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.
"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,” Mr Booth said.