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Byron Shire
September 17, 2021

Experts at odds with local Nats MLC over gas expansion

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An area of the Pilliga Forest where a CSG wastewater spill occurred in 2011. Nothing has grown back. Photo David Saunders.

Plans by the NSW Nationals to expand gas supply and open the state to CSG and gas mining will have a negligible impact on demand, but considerable environmental impacts, according to Renew Economy’s Giles Parkinson.

Ben Franklin being sworn back into the senate as parliamentary secretary for energy and the arts after a failed bid in the lower house in 2019. Photo supplied.

Echonetdaily asked Parkinson to respond to comments by local Nationals MLC Ben Franklin, who last week voted with his party to reject a moratorium on the industry.

The government won the vote by a narrow margin.

While ruling out local gas mining, Franklin said, ‘… there may well be other parts of the state where gas exploration is appropriate – as long as it is independently assessed, and given appropriate environmental approvals’. 

Transition energy

‘We are on a transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

‘That will require high levels of storage, long distance transmission and much better efficiencies in how we use energy’.

Franklin added, ‘But as that transition occurs, we will need an energy source that can react swiftly to changes in the output of wind and solar – one that is relatively low in emissions, and only operates when needed.

‘Natural gas will play that critical role in the short term’.

Gas negligible within 15 years

Parkinson told Echonetdaily, ‘Gas may have a role in the energy transition, and be around longer than coal, but even then, we won’t be needing more gas… most likely a lot less.

‘The experts, including the grid operator and CSIRO, say that the amount of gas generation in the grid will be negligible within 15 years, because of the progress of batteries, demand management, and other smart technologies, and other forms of storage.

‘That’s not a case for locking in investments for assets with a 30-year life or more, and which have considerable environmental impacts’.


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7 COMMENTS

  1. I suppose we are all reponsible for the exceedinly low calibre of these politicians.
    However, I find it inconceivable that anybody could be this ignorant of the state of the World and the consequences of greater fossil fuel production. So I can only find one other motivation and that is corruption and wilful indifference to the effects of their ineptitude.
    To my mind this is a crime against humanity and nature.
    Cheers, G”)

  2. Well put, Ken. Low calibre politicians & even lower
    ineptness within the public circuit. Between the
    ‘Skimmers’ & their supporters we are slowly going
    nuts. Who’s human these days. Corruption’s rife.

  3. Gas is volatile & dangerously unnecessary. There
    are NO parts in Australia where gas exploration is
    appropriate. We already know how to build clean
    energy into the future. We must stop the corrupt
    control that surrounds the Australian public,

  4. A gas led recovery is ‘rubbish.’ There are No parts
    in Australia where gas exploration’s appropriate.
    Gas is dangerously unnecessary & does not
    belong in a Politician’s pocket or anyone’s…

  5. Ben Franklin, another failed minister not popular enough to get voted in so he gets parachuted into a senate seat. What a joke.

  6. This is typical of the nats. Talk tough at election time, but show their true policies later. Change their talk next election. Only represent big business not regional nsw. Can’t be trusted.

  7. Ben Franklin is not in the Senate. He a Member of the NSW Legislative Council. He won his seat at the 2015 election, resigned from it to contest – unsuccessfuly – the seat of Ballina, and was reappointed by the Nationals to fill the seat he previously held. That’s fortuitous for this area as he continues to deliver spending commitments here that he made in the 2019 elections. That’s particularly useful as the Member for Ballina cannot deliver anything.

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