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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

CSG buyback scheme ‘just a stunt’

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Luis Feliu

The National Party’s pre-election promise to buy back controversial coal-seam gas exploration licences on the northern rivers was a just another stunt’ to shore up support for its north coast MPs, according to state Labor.

The deadline for the petroleum exploration licence (PEL) buyback scheme, announced to great fanfare by the Nationals a week out of the election in March, is set to expire tomorrow (Tuesday).

But opposition energy spokesman Adam Searle says the coalition’s buyback scheme, the main plank in its much-touted ‘NSW Gas Plan’, has been exposed as ‘an act’ , with no announcement of the buyback in sight.

Nationals’ Lismore MP Thomas George, who almost lost his seat in the election after sustained regional opposition to CSG, remains silent on the issue.

The CSG issue dominated the election campaign on the north coast, and paved the way for the historic win by the Greens in the seat of Ballina, a former lifelong National Party electorate.

Lismore MP Thomas George. (picture Darren Coyne)
Lismore MP Thomas George promised before the election that a coaliiton government would buy back PEL 445 which covers 70 per cent of his electorate, but the deadline for the buyback scheme expires tomorrow and it appears it has not been funded. (picture Darren Coyne)

Mr Searle says the Baird government’s claim it was listening to community concern about CSG was a ‘PR stunt’, with the latest budget showing the PEL buyback scheme expires tomorrow.

‘This budget makes clear the PEL buy back scheme was just an election ploy by the government,’ he said.

‘At the last minute to midnight, the Liberals and Nationals twigged to the heavy opposition to the expansion of coal seam gas in NSW and cobbled together a plan to get through the election.

‘The end of the buyback scheme just confirms what communities knew from the start: the scheme was a disingenuous PR stunt.

‘The majority of the PELs reclaimed had no CSG stores worth extracting – the companies didn’t even want the licences anymore,’ Mr Searle said.

The attack comes just weeks after another move by the Nationals aimed at banning ban CSG in the region failed miserably at its state conference earlier this month.

Despite much publicity beforehand about the move, north coast Nationals MPs Mr George, Chris Gulaptis (Clarence), Geoff Provest (Tweed) and their leader and deputy premier Troy Grant, were left red-faced when not even a vote was taken on the issue after MPs supporting CSG from elsewhere in the state objected.

In March, Mr Grant, accompanied by Mr George in Lismore, announced the government would buy out PEL 445, which covers 70 per cent of Mr George’s electorate.

Around the same time, energy minister Anthony Roberts, announced that under under its new ‘gas plan’, the government, if re-elected, would extend its buy-back scheme for CSG licences until 30 June .

In a report in Fairfax Media at the time, Mr Grant denied the party was panicking before the election.

He said he was ‘extraordinarily cranky that Labor has the audacity to come up here to the northern rivers and make promises that they can’t keep and write cheques they can’t cash’.

Gasfield Free Northern Rivers co-ordinator Dean Draper described buyback plan for PEL 445 at the time as having ‘absolutely no substance, it’s a weak commitment to negotiate after the election’.


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4 COMMENTS

  1. Hmmmm!
    Joe was national party !
    They have a long history of being lying scoundrels who are hell bent on destroying Australia in their haste, to use their political position, to turn a quick profit. This is nothing new, CSG, live exports ( with torture ), hideous uranium and coal mines and the destruction of The Great Barrier Reef are all stock in trade, to the right wing politics of Australia, as now it’s “open for business” open slather that is !
    G”)

  2. Is it correct that Mr. George only has to hang on to his seat in Macquarie street for 2 years of this government & he is then entitled to lifelong MLC’s pension & all other perks that attend it?
    (Despite the end of the age of entitlement?)

    If that is the case, could it also be postulated that Mr George would not care about CSG in NR? Is it also the case that up until the election period he fully supported gas mining in it’s various forms?

    What made him change his mind about wanting it in the NR? Was that sincere?

    So many questions & very few answers!!

  3. I fail to see what the fuss is about. If there is a useful, saleable, gas in the ground the get it out and sell it.
    The Green opposition is most likely based, as is usual on ‘feel good’ emotional bases, with no real scientific evidence.

  4. Business as usual for the Nationals and their friends in the mining industry. If anyone thinks anything has changed then you’re off with the fairies (which is a better place to be).

    I wrote a detailed letter to Thomas George when he was my State member, detailing my concerns. I included an interview with an ex-Mobil Vice President, who now has very great concerns as to the effects of fracking. This is a man who lived in the metro-chemical world and knows what he’s talking about. Anyhow, Thomas George didn’t even take the time or have the courtesy to reply to me.

    Need I say more about this man?

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