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Byron Shire
March 1, 2021

Unconventional gas bad news for business and jobs

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A new report by The Australia Institute shows that local businesses in unconventional gas regions in Queensland believe that gas development led to deterioration in their finances, local infrastructure, social connections and labor force skills.

The analysis of mostly gas industry funded research also highlights survey results by the CSIRO that found less than a quarter of people living in unconventional gas regions approved of the industry and that only six per cent thought it would change their region for the better.

We can now look at what actually happened to the local economy as a result of the Queensland unconventional gas experiment.

The results show that expectations of economic benefits largely failed to eventuate and most other industries reported being worse off due to the unconventional gas industry push into their region.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Local business stakeholders reported a deterioration in:
    • Financial capital
    • Local Infrastructure
    • Local skills
    • Social cohesion
    • The local environment
  • Unconventional gas has reduced community wellbeing:
    • Fewer than one in four local people approved of the unconventional gas industry, with less than six per cent believing it would ‘lead to something better’.
  • Unconventional gas creates few additional jobs:
    • There were virtually no spill over jobs created in local retail or manufacturing.
    • Gas jobs will be slashed by 80 per cent at the end of the construction period.
  • For every 10 unconventional gas jobs created, seven service sector jobs were lost.

When regional towns become service centers for the gas industry, existing businesses often lose their skilled staff, have to compete with inflated gas industry wages and face higher costs for rent and services.

Workers work long shifts in self-contained camps and have very little opportunity to spend money in town, and companies usually bypass local suppliers.

Many of the gas jobs come at the expense of services jobs. For every 10 unconventional gas jobs in the Queensland gas field areas studied, seven service sector jobs were lost. This is a real concern for people working in the service sector, which has always been a far bigger employer than mining.

The gas industry prefers to employ skilled workers than local unemployed people. These skilled workers tend to already be working in other industries. It’s rearranging the deck chairs rather than providing new ones.

Mark Ogge (report author ) The Australia Institute

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