The bite is still stinging from the IPC’s approval of the Narrabri Gas Project, and today Narrabri locals are demanding answers from John Barilaro.
Farmers from North West NSW have slammed Deputy Premier John Barilaro as ‘out of step’ with the local community and blind to the renewable energy direction of the NSW government, following his speech today backing the controversial Narrabri coal seam project.
Narrabri-based energy consultant Rowan Boehm said that Barilaro’s backing of gas runs contrary to the energy direction set by the NSW State Government’s support for renewable energy. ‘Renewable energy is the future for NSW and the North West. The NSW Government’s own roadmap defines this very clearly, and it also very clearly does not identify the need for a major gas hub for the region.’
‘Renewable energy can establish abundant low cost energy, new jobs, new skills and a new resilience for this region. It’s the direction that the world is moving in, with only a couple of people in NSW still clinging to the past. Gas might have been the right direction 50 years ago, but that’s not the case today.
Mr Boehm said the ‘energy hub’ that’s being spruiked is nothing but a smokescreen. ‘It’s a last hurrah for the gas industry, that will leave stranded assets all over the place over the next few decades.
‘Santos’ shareholders need to face up to reality and move the company to renewable energy production if it is to survive. They’ve already written off $8bn on their Australian assets, and shareholders can’t be keen for further losses.’
‘Simply put, underperforming assets like gas infrastructure are bad for our economy. John Barilaro needs to get behind the renewable energy direction that will create jobs and growth for the North West.’
Barilaro out of touch
Mullaley farmer Margaret Fleck said that Mr Barilaro was out of touch with the needs of farmers and National Party voters. ‘John Barilaro is letting down farmers by trying to push coal seam gas into our agricultural region.
‘The National Party has already lost a seat to Roy Butler of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers in Barwon over water and coal seam gas. Farmers here need to see the Nationals have the guts to stand up to the coal seam gas companies and protect this agricultural region from gasfields.
‘The decision not to extinguish twelve ‘zombie’ coal seam gas exploration licenses, which will endanger large swathes of food producing areas reliant on underground water, puts Barilaro at odds with even his own party.’
Ms Fleck said that last year at the NSW Nationals State Conference, a motion was put forward to extinguish petroleum licenses as they expire, which was carried. ‘And yet, John Barilaro has decided to support the gas industry over Nationals grassroots.
‘Barilaro needs to make a decision about who he represents – regional voters or the coal seam gas industry.’
Zombie Petroleum Exploration licenses are licences that have expired but not been formally extinguished. There are 12 such exploration licences that stretch across 56,000 square kilometres between the Queensland border, Dubbo, Moree, the Warrumbungles, and the Upper Hunter.