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Byron Shire
August 3, 2021

Gas company ‘donated during approval stage’

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Work on AGL’s controversial Gloucester gas project should stop immediately pending a full inquiry into the payment by the company of more than $100,000 in political donations while the project was being approved.

That’s the call by Groundwell Gloucester and the Lock The Gate Alliance.

Only $50,000 in donations was declared to the planning department.

Groundswell Gloucester spokesperson Julie Lyford said the moral and legal issues surrounding AGL’s donations to the Liberal and Labor parties needed to be fully explored before another sod was turned on the controversial coal seam gas project.

‘All work on the project should come to a halt until we have full and open disclosure of who was paid what and why,’ Ms Lyford said.

Her comments follow the latest twist in the NSW political donations saga with an admission from AGL that it had called in auditors to investigate whether it had made any ‘errors’ in its political donations disclosures.

‘Residents of Gloucester are facing the uncertain and frightening future of living in a gasfield with wells and infrastructure just metres from their homes, and now we learn that AGL has been forced to bring in auditors to sort out a spider web of political donations associated with the project,’ Ms Lyford said.

‘Until we can be assured that everything is legal and above board no further work should take place on this project. We should not have to live with the damaging consequences of decisions made concurrently with undisclosed political donations.’

Lock the Gate’s Hunter regional coordinator Steve Phillips said the questions over political donations were too big to ignore.

‘There is an urgent need to restore public confidence in the approvals process for CSG projects and into decision-making around major resource projects more broadly,” Mr Phillps said.

‘We need to know why AGL was given approval to build a full-scale gasfield at Gloucester in 2011, years before they would be ready to act on that approval, and prior to crucial exclusion zones for homes being brought into force.

‘We need to know why the company was given approval last week to frack so close to people’s homes, without even conducting a full environment study.

‘Public faith in the fairness of coal and gas approvals is at its nadir, as the corruption crisis in our state parliament continues to unfold.

‘The public will never see coal and gas approvals as fair while companies are allowed to hand bags of cash to political parties.

‘The government must move to ensure that mining companies companies, including gas giants like AGL, are barred from handing cash over to political parties, just as property developers and tobacco companies are.

‘In the mean time, save this community the angst of having to defend their Valley from the invasion of coal seam gas fracking, and suspend approval for this project.’

 


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2 COMMENTS

  1. The history of Coal Seam Gas is riddled with apparent corruption. Why would any government approve a short term unsustainable industry with enormous and obviously expensive or impossible to repair environmental risks? The measly royalties and taxes hardly cover all incentive monies given to the industry and the profits all go to foreigners. Given the abundant alternatives to gas that are now available and the fact that the evidence casts considerable doubt on any climate benefits over coal fired power, why even start a Gas Industry in Australia? It has to be either incompetence or corruption, and anyone that incompetent wouldn’t be capable of remembering to breathe.
    This story is not unexpected, corporations and businesses should not be allowed to donate to politicians and political parties, only individuals, and the donations should not be exempt from tax.

  2. People should be aware of the report by Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) claiming bias by the ABC in covering CSG & mining stories and should be privatised asap.

    This so-called “independent” body receives donations from Gina Rhinehart and Rupert Murdoch. Thankfully, Getup is running a campaign to counter this attack on one of the only reliable sources of information left for Australians.

    Yet here we have a huge company making donations during their approval stage … and where are the conservative commentators to scream “foul play” or bias by Rupert’s media empire?

    We all know what is going on!

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