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Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Page: 12125

Mr HOGAN (Page) (09:39): Coal-seam gas has been a contentious issue in the Northern Rivers for the past 45 years. At times it has been very polarising and at times very unifying. In late 2012 I started to get inundated with YouTube clips and articles about the dangers of CSG. I did not believe I could make up my mind without viewing the industry firsthand. The industry in my region was very much in its infancy, so I drove up to the Tara and Chinchilla region in southern Queensland. I spoke to many people that day and came away with a very firm opinion. I will quote from a statement I put out at the time:

Last week I toured the gas fields in Tara and Kogan and I have seen first-hand the effects of CSG mining on the environment and the community. I went to the CSG fields in Queensland with reservations about the industry and returned with grave concerns. The infrastructure is incredibly invasive and properties are devalued when CSG is next door. Given farms are much smaller in our region the impact would be even greater.

… … …

After I had researched, listened to both sides and seen CSG production firsthand, I asked myself if I would like a well on or near my property. The answer is no. I run a cattle property in the area and I would not want CSG on or near my farm. I sympathise greatly with those who are fighting on this principle and cannot expect others to accept CSG mining into their neighbourhood if I would not accept it into mine.

I wore a lot of flak over that statement when I first made it. I wore a lot of flak from people who are now my federal parliamentary colleagues, from some state parliamentary colleagues and from some in my community. I also received great words of support from people who are now my colleagues in federal parliament and, indeed, from members of my community.

Since that time, I have lobbied colleagues. I went to Bentley, which was a protest site of a potential drill-mining site in our region. I met with ministers and I had meetings with prime ministers about this issue. I have amended, in this place, my own government's legislation regarding the water trigger legislation. I moved two amendments to my own government's legislation. The first amendment made it compulsory for state governments to consider the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development. The second amendment ensured that the federal government can request advice from the IESC and that the federal minister retains the right to call in projects.

This week, my state National colleagues announced the buyback of PEL 445. This is very significant. We still need to do two or three more, but I acknowledge my state colleagues Chris Gulaptis, Geoff Provest and Thomas George and, indeed, the state government, who have worked tirelessly at reducing the footprint of this industry in our region. I also, lastly, thank my community. They highlighted this issue to me. They spoke to me. They, indeed, educated me on it. This has shown me that democracy works. I have been pleased to able to play my part as a community representative, and I look to more good news on this industry in my region soon.