This week the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) launched its $5 million ‘charm offensive’ to try to convince Victorians that unconventional gas such as coal seam gas and tight gas are clean, green and good for the economy. Already it seems APPEA has been caught out making up figures to suit their already weak argument that communities across Victoria will simply not buy.
They claim that 100,000 jobs have been created in the gas industry in the last year, but according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in May 2013, employment in oil and gas extraction was 24,700 people. This has increased by 9400 since May 2012 and this includes both oil and gas, meaning the number working in the gas industry is actually much smaller. What they also fail to acknowledge is that unconventional gas expansion into rural Victoria will create job losses in other robust, long-serving and crucial industries such as agriculture and tourism.
Putting the negative impact this will have on other local economies aside, we are still dealing with an industry that can only be compared to the asbestos industry in terms of their dismal environmental record with over 6.5 per cent of well casings failing initially and 60 per cent failing over the first 20 years, leading to migration of methane. These are industry figures. We are talking about the contamination of our underground water. Once these aquifers have been compromised there is no going back. Why would we want to support a ‘flash in the pan’ industry that has a lifespan of 25 years at the most and put at risk our water security and the state’s ability to grow clean, safe food for generations to come all to support an export market? That risk seems too irresponsible and dangerous to take.
Ursula Alquier, Lock the Gate Victorian Coordinator, www.lockthegate.org.au/victoria