While the title ‘Forget CSG, give us a train’ of the Sentinel-Times Comment, June 17, presents a good idea, the conclusion that, in terms of energy, investment in renewable energy is a better option than CSG is correct. But there are issues of detail in the Comment that I would respectfully like to bring to your attention.
If, as stated, CSG were likely to create jobs this would indeed be a point in its favour. However the facts do not support this.
The industry’s peak body, the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA), ran a multimillion-dollar national advertising campaign that claimed the industry created an additional 100,000 jobs in 2012.
However, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in November last year, the oil and gas industries combined employed only 23,200 people in total (not just newly created jobs). The gas industry as a whole (let alone just CSG) is too small for the ABS to itemise separately.
The disparity is in part accounted for by the fact that APPEA’s figures include jobs outside the industry that it considers it creates as a consequence of its presence whereas the ABS counts only jobs in the specified industry.
Following APPEA’s methodology, one should consider not only the jobs CSG would bring to Gippsland but also those it would destroy, e.g. in tourism and agriculture to name but two.
Add to this the fact that historically the CSG industry does not employ significant numbers of locals (preferring to ship in workers on an “as needed” basis) the employment potential for Gippslanders looks very bleak rather than rosy.
And let’s not forget that the number of workers peaks during the early construction and drilling phase. Once the wells are on line the number of workers declines to a much smaller number.
The Comment correctly states that drilling should not commence before the November election. I feel a date much further into the future is more appropriate given that the community consultation process is ongoing and the report is not due until the end of March 2015 with any decisions presumably being some time after that.
We do not owe the gas industry short-term profits at the risk of serious long-term or permanent damage affecting us all.
If we wait until the processes and chemicals used are independently assessed as safe, the gas will not lose any value by being left in the ground a few more years – quite the contrary.
If that independent safety assessment can’t be made, at least we won’t have sacrificed our food and water supplies, farming and tourism industries, public health, property values and community for nothing at the altar of gas company profits.
Peter Wonfor, Inverloch.