CH 14

CSG, Adani and Big Coal

The clear and present danger of climate change means we cannot burn our way to prosperity. We already rely too heavily on fossil fuels. We need to find a new, sustainable path to the future we want. We need a clean industrial revolution.
– Ban Ki-moon

I remember telling the ALP State Secretary Evan Moorhead in 2015 (while I was still in the ALP) about my support for the “Lock The Gate (LTG) Alliance”. He replied, “oh be careful with them, they are a bit radical”. I remember thinking “FFS we are talking about farmers and the knitting nanna’s.” The truth of my experience of LTG is that they were just ordinary people who did not want their family poisoned, or indeed their farm land.

By 2017 I had resigned from the ALP. While this left me ostracised in the parliament and with nothing more than an outside chance of re-election, I was just so grateful for the opportunity to speak from the heart on issues I was passionate about. I made these comments to Parliament on 22 March 2017:

CSG Fracking

Mr PYNE (Cairns—Ind) (6.12 pm): I speak in support of the motion moved by the member for Mount Isa. I was surprised recently to read that we are in a gas crisis. After all, I regularly hear in this
chamber how well our gas boom is being handled in this state, how effectively the government is managing it and how it is underwriting the economic vibrancy of Queensland and not to mention
Gladstone, which from all accounts is turning into an economic industrial powerhouse the likes of which the world has never seen.
How can there be a gas crisis when we are mining more gas than ever before?

About six years ago, the Queensland and Australian governments entered into agreements with three huge gas
consortiums to give massive approvals to build three giant terminals in Gladstone. They promised huge supplies of gas in contracts with foreign countries, contracts nobody else has ever seen. Our
governments have in effect linked the local gas market to the international gas market. How crazy is that. Of course it has massively pushed up the price for gas that people have to pay here in Australia. The result is that Queensland people and businesses are paying through the nose for something that occurs naturally here in vast quantities. In fact it is not only vast quantities; Australia is poised to become the world’s greatest gas exporter.

It reminds me of the line from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, which goes something like ‘Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink’. In this case it is more like ‘Gas, gas, everywhere, but none
to keep Australian pensioners warm this winter’. I am also reminded of the lyrics from the Skyhooks song Ego Is Not A Dirty Word. I would hope ‘ego’ is not a dirty word in this place, because there is a lot of ego in this chamber. Another word that should not be a dirty word is ‘regulation’. Regulation exists to protect consumers; regulation should be used to protect Australians. We know that regulation works. We see it working in Western Australia. It is simply a matter of saying to these companies that if they want to export they need to reserve 15 per cent for domestic use for the domestic economy.

People are left scratching their heads about gas prices, but one thing they are not scratching their heads about is the growing evidence of the damage this industry has done in Queensland and
New South Wales. There are industrial gas fields imposed on regional communities that are damaging farms and damaging the environment. We have seen farmers who have had livestock die. I have spoken to parents outside this chamber who live close to gas wells and who have said that their children are bleeding from the nose. We have seen the tragic consequences here in Queensland with people like Mr George Bender taking their own lives after a lengthy struggle with this massive gas industry.

When an individual farmer is dealing with a multinational company of such power and influence, how can they be expected to compete with that influence? I have always believed that governments should
be there to help the little guy but, no, governments here in Queensland are helping the big multinationals, not the little guy.

We all know that opening this country up to more damaging fracking will not help push down the price of gas—not while the price is linked to the international market. Who is to blame for where we are
today? There are only two parties to blame—one, the greedy multinationals that come here with no other goal than to maximise profits while sucking this nation dry and, two, the governments of this state and country that failed to reserve Australian gas for Australian consumers.

Stop Adani

I was the only MP to oppose Adani in the state parliament.

24 November 2017

Member for Cairns Rob Pyne has said the proposed Adani coal mine could be a determinant factor as Cairns voters head to the polls. With emissions from coal contributing to coral bleaching, Pyne says “local residents will vote to protect the reef because it is an international wonder and a massive financial asset for the region.”
The emissions from the coal Adani will mine will fuel the primary threat to the reef’s survival: climate change. “Our governments seem to refuse to acknowledge the reality of the situation. It’s a choice – it’s coal or it’s coral and we are going to have to pick, because we can’t have both.”

Australian Institute of Marine Science and the Climate Council, have said coal mining is the primary threat to coral reefs worldwide. The reef has suffered back-to-back mass coral bleaching events due to warming ocean temperatures. UNESCO expressed serious concern about bleaching and climate change remains the most significant threat.
A Deloitte report said that of the 64,000 jobs linked to the reef, 39,000 were direct jobs – making the reef a bigger “employer” than the likes of Telstra, the Qantas Group and the oil and gas extraction industry. The report, produced for the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, says the World Heritage-listed asset contributes $6.4 billion to the nation’s economy each year.
Scientists, economists and conservationists agree the controversial Adani coal mine will negatively impact the Cairns economy. Climate scientist Steve Turton said “We’re gambling with this priceless global asset if we persevere with this mega coal mine.”

New Ackland Stage 3 and Big Coal

Other Reference Material and Pictures

Rob Pyne: A Far Northern Life

A Far Northern Life