Coal seam gas under inquiry spotlight

PARLIAMENTARY debate has begun over a push to reserve gas for NSW and establish protections to push down prices and increase the industry's transparency.

Shooters and Fishers MP Robert Borsak called for all four recommendations of a recent inquiry to be accepted, including pursuing a nationwide gas reservation policy to ensure local supply.

But Liberal Scot MacDonald said the government had no intention of "hiding under our shell and pretending we can protect the industry".

"It is interesting that this committee inquiry received 36 submissions," he said.

"I think we had 1000 or more for the first committee inquiry.

"I think that is instructive in itself that maybe some of the scaremongering is falling a bit flat these days and people are no longer responding in the emotive way that we saw a couple of years earlier."

Mr MacDonald argued gas reservation was protectionism, which was bad for the state and national economies.

"It is irrelevant in this case, of course, because we are not an exporter - there is nothing to reserve in NSW," he said.

"There are no gasfields in the pipeline, so to speak, that will offer the prospect of exporting overseas.

"If it is to happen in the future, that is a long way down the track."

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham said coal seam gas was a dying industry and companies across Australia were struggling to make ends meet.

"Origin (Energy) is scrambling to break even. Santos has been absolutely ruined," he said.

"Its share price has gone from $16 to about $1 in a matter of months.

"It did not foresee that this high-cost business was vulnerable to the global oversupply of oil and gas and the resultant drop in the price of oil.

"The Iranians are getting back in the game and the Americans are exporting.

"All of a sudden we have El Dorado. Puff - up in a cloud of gas!"

The debate continues.

-APN NEWSDESK



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