APPEA lashes opponents

AUSTRALIA’S upstream sector may have felt some vindication by anti-gas votes flat-lining in New South Wales electorates where gas projects are under development, but that just gave APPEA chairman Bruce Lake more ammunition to lash industry opponents yesterday for knowingly promulgating fictions on which they are still rarely challenged.
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APPEA chairman Bruce Lake.

Anthony Barich

Lake, who is also Vermilion Oil and Gas Australia managing director, said that just as industry had let inefficiencies creep in during the good times, governments had allowed unnecessary regulatory problems to persist and in many cases to grow.

“Let me be very clear. Despite the vocal minority that ignores the facts, the industry is highly regulated and is subject to the most detailed regulatory scrutiny in Australia,” Lake told APPEA 2015 in Melbourne yesterday.

“But we are very, very focused on ensuring we operate to the highest standards.

“We seek to ensure that our statements and actions can withstand scientific scrutiny and challenge.

“Unfortunately, some of our opponents do not play by the same rules. Some of them – often knowingly – present the most outrageous misinformation as facts; and they are rarely challenged on this.”

He said industry was not seeking hand-outs or special treatment, just asking governments for an open-minded reassessment of Australia’s regulatory frameworks.

“We need reform that is guided by evidence and by science, not by misinformation or by scare campaigns and opaque agendas,” he said.

“We need a workplace relations framework that recognises competitive challenges and considers the national interest.

“We need energy policy that is guided by market incentives. Not by out-dated and discredited protectionist and command-economy measures.”

Both federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane and Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas backed up this science-driven approach. Pallas said it was fair to say most Victorians remained unconvinced at the environmental safety of industry.

Macfarlane’s tone turned decidedly determined when he said there had been an “unnecessary scare campaign” about unconventional gas – particularly CSG – which “has not served the community’s interest”