Campaigners accused of distorted figures

Michael McNamara, holding white sign, says he's not surprised a minister has accused Northern NSW CSG campaigners of distorting figures.
Michael McNamara, holding white sign, says he's not surprised a minister has accused Northern NSW CSG campaigners of distorting figures. John Gass

ANTI-CSG campaigners have lashed out after accusation from the NSW Resource Minister that they were creating irresponsible debate.

Lock the Gate Tweed Michael McNamara said he was not surprised by the comments from the "Minister of Coal Seam Gas".

Resources Minister Chris Hartcher used a speech in Brisbane to accuse green groups of creating an irresponsible debate about coal-seam gas, particularly in the Northern NSW area of Lismore, Casino and Gunnedah.

Mr McNamara said it was more irresponsible to push an industry before conducting the required scientific research.

"He is not just calling the green groups irresponsible... he is saying that about five out of six voters in Lismore," Mr McNamara said.

"I'm not surprised by the minister."

Mr Hartcher said NSW needed to follow the lead of Queensland, where the coal-seam gas industry was beginning to mature to ensure gas supply and to ease rising power prices.

It was a growing industry that could transform parts of regional NSW into economic hubs, much like the resources industry had done for pockets of Queensland, he said.

But he said while discussion and debate was important, it had to be responsible and based on facts.

"(The debate) has been marked by the green movement that has distorted figures and simply uses the Gaslands movie from the United States which of course does not relate to operations here," Mr Hartcher told the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association CSG conference on Tuesday.

The film illustrates how gas mining has delivered environmental and health problems in parts of the US.

Mr Hartcher was later quizzed by a gas company staffer who asked how the government and industry could put the true science above the noise of a concerted social media campaign.

The minister said "truth was the only salvation".

"It is a distortion of facts they have engaged in, and engaged in quite massively when they know them to be untrue," he said.

"The government tries to set the record straight and it has set up the policy framework.

"But industry needs to get out there and sell the message.

"One of the biggest problems, to be brutally honest, is that industry hasn't sold the message. That has created a vacuum where the green movement has moved in.

"Unless (CSG mining) is properly presented, there will be irrational and uninformed debate."

Topics:  chris hartcher, csg, lock the gate tweed, mining



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