Santos lobbied the Morrison Government to subsidise a gas pipeline that would enable its controversial Narrabri gas project, new documents released under FOI reveal.
Email records from within the National COVID-19 Commission show that as early as May 2020, Santos was telling the federal government it would ‘support sensible policies that… provide low-cost financing for investment in “missing pipeline links” on an open access, regulated basis (e.g. Wallumbilla-Narrabri-Newcastle).’
Santos suggested, ‘This could be through Government or private investment with NBN Co and NAIF being examples of each.’
Upper Hunter Shire Councillor Sue Abbott, whose region would be impacted by the proposed Queensland-Hunter gas pipeline, said Santos’ request was not surprising given the Commonwealth Government’s well-known and heavily criticised plan to waste taxpayer money on polluting gas projects.
‘This is yet another example of a fossil fuel company sticking out its hand for taxpayer money because it cannot make a project pay for itself. This would be a dreadful way to spend public money,’ she said.
‘Building a gas pipeline through the Upper Hunter would destroy agricultural land and horse studs – the Upper Hunter is a world-renowned equine cluster.
‘At the end of the day this gas pipeline is likely to leak, it’s likely to cause the same damage and pollution pipelines have already caused elsewhere around the world, and it’s ultimately likely to lead to expensive court battles.
‘Building this pipeline, let alone subsidising it, is poor practice for people’s health and wellbeing,’ she said.
‘It is well and truly time we moved away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy. This Federal Government’s intransigence is just unbelievable.’
Quirindi farmer Annette Wallis, who would be impacted by the QLD HGP, said, ‘It is totally arrogant of Santos to suggest taxpayer money should be spent on damaging gas pipelines that would up-end many farmers’ operations.
‘Rather than handing out public cash to gas companies, let’s see the government make it easier for farmers to build on their current land management practises, reduce their methane production, and work towards their farms being carbon neutral for the benefit of the environment.
‘COVID, drought, and tension with China has shown how important our primary sector is, and it is high time for the government to invest in the hand that feeds the table, rather than short term, destructive gas projects.’