The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association has applauded the Australian Workers Union’s argument for an expansion in coal seam gas exploration, but not its request for a national gas reservation policy.
The AWU passed a motion at its national conference endorsing a boost to coal seam gas mining, saying that the NSW government was overly regulating its extraction.
"Communities that are concerned about coal seam gas … should have the ability to express those concerns to the producers and to the government that regulates the industry," Paul Howes, the AWU’s national secretary said, in remarks reported by the Morning Bulletin yesterday.
He criticised anti-CSG lobbyists for spreading fear about gas exploration, and said that the NSW government burdened the industry with excessive red tape.
"I'm not saying we don't need regulation. Of course we need regulation. This should be a heavily-regulated industry because it is a dangerous industry by its very nature."
APPEA praised the call for more CSG extraction as a "timely reminder that the best response to rising gas prices is more gas, not more regulation".
However, it did not extend its praise to the AWU’s demands for gas reservation.
"It is a worthy policy debate to consider whether there are broader benefits to be extracted from a more strategic deployment of Australia's vast energy wealth, than simply exporting it to a narrow financial benefit to very few direct beneficiaries," said the union’s motion.
APPEA called this “little more than protectionism dressed up as industry-development”, and a return to approaches to industry that were junked in the 1980s.
"Arguments for domestic gas reservation are highly dangerous, short-sighted and self-interested,” its CEO David Byers told APN.
“Gas reservation policies actually impair local gas supply and affordability, rather than improve it."
The union will campaign for a reservation scheme up until the September 14 election.