The Queensland government has conspicuously ratcheted-up pressure on its New South Wales counterpart over the politically contentious issue of affordable energy gas supplies, seizing on a price hike in the south to push for increases in production.
Queensland Energy Minister Mark McArdle has demanded the newly sworn-in new Baird government to pump up its output of controversial Coal Seam Gas as a means to bring down prices for consumers after the NSW utility price regulator effectively waved through a rise of more than 17 per cent on present prices for the state regulated commodity.
The price hike in NSW comes as the state government continues to grapple with growing hostility to CSG extraction from grass roots community groups and farmers who remain deeply fearful of the potential damage to underground water reserves that many communities and landholders rely on.
The high profile issue of increased CSG extraction remains a vexed political issue for the NSW government because it must juggle the competing interests of household and industrial gas consumers for affordable prices with the electoral and environmental fallout in affected regions.
Mr McArdle accused New South Wales of having the potential to produce significant volumes of CSG but putting substantial roadblocks in the way of producers.
“The costs of pandering to minority anti-gas interest groups are now being paid for by New South Wales gas consumers,” Mr McArdle said.
“In contrast, Queensland has facilitated the growth of its gas industry by creating the Gasfields Commission, which worked directly with landholders to help demonstrate the benefits of the CSG industry.”
The Queensland government’s swipe at NSW comes as the resources industry and LNP politicians mount a concerted publicity and public affairs campaign to sell the benefits of the coal industry and its related fuels.
A major issue that all state governments are facing is that international demand for gas fuel is rising, putting direct upward pressure on domestic prices.
Mr McArdle said although CSG production started in New South Wales “about the same time as it did in Queensland” progress has been slow that demand was now outstripping supply.
“In gas supply, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria are carrying New South Wales,” Mr McArdle said.
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