The scare campaigns surrounding fracking have been allowed to run for far too long and will have adverse repercussions for living standards and jobs, writes Peter Reith.

Last Friday, I completed my role as chairman of the Victorian Government's task force on the eastern gas market. The report will be printed and handed to the Premier this week. The decision to publish the report is a matter for the Government.

I hope that the Victorian Government will make a positive decision on the future of the gas industry sometime before Christmas; the only barrier is politics. In my opinion, in order to secure existing jobs and to provide the prospect of more jobs, both Victoria and New South Wales cannot afford to delay.

Victorians have a choice; they can close their eyes to the future or they can follow in the steps of great Victorians like John Monash and Henry Bolte and strive for the investments and jobs that could be the destiny of our state.

The lesson to learn from policy failures in NSW is that governments who abandon public debate soon find that scare campaigns and green activists fill the vacuum. And then the public debate is soon mired in myriad false claims, partly because government has not ensured the public is fairly informed and because some activists have other political agendas. Sadly, instead of promoting increased supply of gas by constructively responding to genuine issues, decisions taken in Victoria with its moratoriums and NSW with various policies have encouraged the green activists. This situation will have to change.

Victorians should be under no illusions. Gas prices are already rising and will have a negative impact on Victoria's manufacturing base.

There are many reasons why manufacturing in Victoria is under pressure. Victoria is not a rust bucket, not yet, but unless governments are prepared to fight for real reform to reduce costs then the prospects for Victoria are fading. Many of the cost burdens on business are imposed by governments, state and federal. The willingness of the Victorian Government to tackle energy prices, especially natural gas prices, may well be a litmus test for both sides of politics. Victoria could regain its manufacturing base but it will take a lot more commitment by governments than anything proposed since Fightback in 1993.

The most immediate issue is that in the early years from 2014, the Queensland LNG export plants may not be able to acquire sufficient natural gas from their new gas fields and, in that case, they will source gas from sources otherwise slated for domestic use, thereby pushing up the price.

In anticipation, prices are already rising. There is little reliable information on what the exact impact might be but at worst there could be big price increases for residential users, a shortage of gas for businesses, and even business closures and job losses.

Green activists strongly oppose any fossil fuels even though gas has much lower emissions than brown coal. Gas is not only important to lower emissions, as has happened in the US, it is also essential to the use of wind power, as wind power needs to be supplemented because it is not always available.

The Greens also oppose nuclear power which would reduce emissions and they are running strong scare campaigns against gas exploration and production in Victoria and New South Wales.

I have seen many scare campaigns in my time in politics but this particular campaign has been allowed to run for far too long and will have adverse repercussions for living standards and jobs.

The film called Gasland is part of the scare campaign. It shows gas coming out of a water tap in a kitchen with the blunt suggestion that this is the result of fracking (as seen in the trailer). This is a bald lie because 'swamp' gas in water taps in that part of the US has been a known phenomenon since long before fracking.

Another favourite claim surrounds the Condamine River in Queensland. The first report from the department "confirmed that bubbling gas observed in the Condamine River poses no risk to the environment or to human or animal health".

I sought advice from senior officials at GeoScience Australia. They told me that concentrations of chemicals in ground water or connections to aquifers were 'unlikely'.

That was probably an understatement. Although fracking in Victoria has been limited, there is no known case of problems.

There have been more than one million fracking operations in the US alone (according to some sources, fracking numbers have now exceeded 2.5 million). According to respected expert Professor Peter Hartley from the University of WA, a former President of the US Association for Energy Economics and an economics professor at Rice University in Houston, "There is no proven case of fracturing fluid or hydrocarbons produced by fracturing diffusing from the fractured zone into an aquifer." (These comments were made during an address at Deakin University in Melbourne on October 8).

Not only are concerns about fracking exaggerated, the reality in Victoria is that the geology in places like Gippsland are different and fracking is not likely to be needed on the scale currently underway in Queensland. Onshore gas has been underway in Queensland for at least 15 years.

There is virtually no country in the world that bans fracking because there is no reason to do so. Fracking was invented in the late 1940s; it is a new technology and more and more firms are turning to green fracking which is another innovation from the gas industry.

Victorians with an open mind should visit Roma and nearby and hear how the gas industry has been a boon for regional Queensland including for farmers (see also The Australian, October 26, 2013) and despite thousands of fracking operations.

Queensland has worked through the same issues as Victoria and New South Wales. Rather than turning a blind eye to the possibilities of natural gas, the southern states would do well to learn from Queensland's mistakes and look carefully at the success they are now enjoying.

Peter Reith was a senior cabinet minister in the Howard government from 1996 to 2001 and then a director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development from 2003 to 2009. View his full profile here.

When it comes to our environment, and particularly our water resources, science will be a valuable tool to understand what are real risks and what is alarmist malarky. There are very likely both in the current debate.The science is not in, as this article concedes. A cautionary approach is best in the long term.

If it does go wrong there will be no way f fixing it. It is also unlikely that compensation will ever be possible even if damage is done. Oil and gas companies are very good at ensuring that outcome with two recent examples being:- The 2008 Varanus Island gas explosion which resulted in a gas supply shortage that did substantial damage to the WA economy. - The 2009 Montara oil spill where oil was spewing into the Timor Sea for 75 days.

If mr Reith totally believes that fracking is very safe then he should stake his claim to the mast and offer that any future claims against fracking will be settled against his cast estate. of course mr Reith wont do this as he knows full well that there is no free lunch with any forms of fracking. oh and by the way fracking invented in the 40's isn't new technology but rather 70 years old .

Good comment Dave,Might be a little difficult though considering the current Federal Govt has no minister for science. For the first time since the early 1900's. Funny that. Onwards and upwards, 21st century here we come.

I don't think anyone was prepared to take on the role and be made a laughing stock for the rest of their days.

Perhaps a Minister of Wikipedia?In my opinion, in order to secure existing jobs and to provide the prospect of more jobs, both Victoria and New South Wales cannot afford to delay - on renewable energy.

I often wonder why Conservatives are not conservative when it comes to the environment.Apparently social changes, like gay marriage, could cause huge and unforseen harm to our societies. But we can do whatever we want to the environment without the slightest concern. A definition of Conservative is:1. Favoring traditional views and values.2. Traditional or restrained in style.3. Moderate; cautious.When it comes to environmental issues Conservatives never seem to be the slightest bit restrained, moderate, or cautious.The environmental movement has traditionally been tied up with socially progressive lefties, that has muddied the waters, so to speak. I think we need some conservative environmentalists. Farmers may be a good start.

Water became a precious resource after I moved to the Japan, with extremely high water rate, I will save every drop if I can.

I wonder that too, often. You'd think, intuitively that their naturally cautious nature would encapsulate their thinking on the environment and our only life support system...perversely the opposite effect seems to be the outcome. Seemingly one of the few instances that conservatives could come out on the right side of history and what do they do??.run screaming in the other direction. Beggars belief really, there must by a plethora of psychology PhD's in there somewhere.

conservative only in maintenance of their own nest egg, a conservative wants to conserve their status quo whilst caring zilch about anyone else. a conservative is the pure form of a self centred ego that has lost empathy for others. its the backward step of culture as any sense of others and society and community are foreign in their world of self. so when it comes to the environment its viewed as a resource for exploitation rather than continuance for future generations. a conservationist seeks to safeguard against the exploitation of a resource which sadly fracking isn't concerned with.

True.Conservative of the silver spoon, is often the case.Greens are often more conservative and backward looking in some respects and then on the other hand more progressive in the social context. Bit you can't pigeon hole either group really.It's like the nuclear debate and the Finance sector.Great technologies to extract large sums of money and concentrate it in the big end of town. If things go wrong, huge problems that the rest of us can just deal with, if they can just convince us all that it is OK to start with.Privatise the profits, socialize the consequences.This is the new conservative way.

Hello whogoesthere,Truth is right there in your comment. When it comes to the environment, Conservatives look the other way, every time. They are actually not conservative and are radical in thinking that prosperity and environment are separate entities. In fact prosperity and environment must be seen as coexisting when it comes to the poorly regulated, and scientifically untested effects of fracking via the CSG industry. We need to be cautious.

Quite true,You'll also find many 'conservatives' were not born well off financially at all. Esp the current and recent crops of LNP ministers.They generally ride the back of socially progressive ideas until they reach the spot they want to be in and pick that moment as the one to 'conserve'. Generally for the good of themselves rather than others. Of today or the future.

Abbott's father is dentist. It's not James Packer grade "well off", but dentists have always done OK. And he went to a private school.Which poor LNP MP did you have in mind ?

Business environmentalists? They do seem to have a thing about maintaining the current ecosystem.They're very concerned about invasive species.

Peter Reith IS NOT A CONSERVATIVE.He is a big business fundamentalist. His religion opposes anything that gets in the way of transnational corporations sucking up every last dollar that they can.This includes Australians getting paid a decent wage, Australians having clean water, etc etcConservatives promote, among other things, family values. Nothing has destroyed the traditional family like market fundamentalism has. Who cares about parents spending time with their children on the weekends? Penalty rates get in the way of big business, so stuff it if mum and dad want to take their kid to the footy! Casualisation works for big business, so stuff it if mum and dad want secure jobs or want to buy a house! Joe the farmer wants a negligible amount of clean bore water to raise food. Stuff him! That gets in the way of big business!

That's right. But these people pretend to be Conservative, and seem to con people who may truly be conservative into believeing that the business fundamentalist type of 'Conservatism', is the only type there is, and that any other point of view is progressive, lefty, socialist, radicalism.

Fred, you are right, just having Peter Reith as Chairman means that he is there as a rubber stamp for fracking and the gas industry going ahead. If it was truly to look at the science of fracking they would have had an appropriate scientist as Chairman, not an ex politician and party hack.As it is our underground water geological systems are poorly understood. As are the relationships between those underground water systems and our surface water systems. At different timelines they each feed into each other. And into these systems Peter says we should throw the impacts of fracking and who knows what chemicals without a care. But of course fracking and the chemicals used are only one part of the issue. Agriculture and other uses have overtime put a serious strain on both surface and underground water capacity. And of course one of the side affects of fracking is further extraction of that very important groundwater.This extraction may have some very long-term important impacts on both underground and surface waters systems related to all of the above. There are I would suggest many unknowns as to those impacts because each water catchment has its own particular relationship between underground and surface waters. And than of course we also have the unknown potential of water pollution and health impacts. And here we have good on Pete telling us no worries, I know all, its all in your mind. Fracking is going on around the world because of big money from very powerful oil and gas companies. People's concerns simply get run over by kowtowing politicians and powerful interests.

Conservatism:A body of political ideas and attitudes, the burden of which is a preference for the old, and established in the social and political order rather than the new and untried. As such its advocates emphasize the importance of law and order, continuity, prescription, caution in innovation, tradition, variety, the imperfectability of human nature and consequent ineradicability of human vices. Traditionally it embodies a degree of deference, an acceptance of a degree of inequality between humans, a distrust of the purely intellectual approach to politics and the acceptance of the property. State intervention and state subvention both for individuals and economic institutions should, in the view of the conservatives, only be employed at the margin.

You missed something too - the truth. Big business does not pay for everyone's ideals - small business and the individual contribute as well.

look, I understand how you misinterpreted my short note.What I meant was, that the impact on employment, enabling all of the people to contribute, whether working in small or large business is paramount.With employment, one gets standards (in The West) and the right to determine one's future. One gets choices.So ideals can be exercised, which they could not otherwise have been, in Dictatorships, communes, or religiously controlled societies.It helps toward individualism.

You're right, whogoesthere. But all conservatives seem to be interested in conserving is perpetual growth. Which, in many ways, is the natural enemy of all things environmental. Maybe they just need to be convinced that preserving and looking after the environment is the biggest growth industry of the future. Not an easy task. Just mention the word "green" and they turn blue.....

Conserving a lifestyle of greed and extravagance.To the libs, nothing is of any value unless there is a monetary value on it. so it can either be sold or privatised.

I think you are misunderstanding Consevatism here. Conservatism is about respecting tradition, but also being pragmatic and admiring the works of man. Fracking is a conservative issue because it is a traditonal thing that man sees his envoironment and adapts it to his needs. Conserving the environment in a pristine unaffected state is in ffact the radical viewpoint, because that way would lead to men regressing back to the natural state of warring, stunted little proles. Adapting the environment is something conservatives support.

conservatism is about the tradition of a few vested interests over the aspirations of the majority. the vested interests of self over community/ over society, its the conservatives who by their nature do reduce or attempt to reduce everything down to a base level of survival of the fittest( richest) rather than utilising shared resources for the goo d of the whole( community) the regression occurs when the conservatives attempt to maintain their interests thus they regress ( conserve ) to a period of their powerbase.

"conservatism is about the tradition of a few vested interests over the aspirations of the majority."Sounds a lot like the Green movement.

Peter, if by adapting the environment to your needs you damage or destroy the environment - then you are a vandal, not a conservative.Unfortunately this line gets blurred and crossed time and time again. You might call it economic progress, I call it inexcusable recklessness. Remember when mining giant Xstrata was allowed to redirect the flow of the Macarthur River in the Northern Territory to be able to move to (more lucrative) open cut mining at one of it's operations ? This was not adapting the environment, this was environmental rape. And with Can do-Campbell in QLD on a "Let's mine"-rampage and Tony Abbott declaring "....once again Australia is open for business", I'm not very hopeful that we just adapt the environment to our needs. Conservatively, of course.

'admiring the works of man'But surely not blindly ?. Alot of the 'works of man' have been monumental stuff-ups. Learning from them would seem prudent.There is a world between 'living in a cave' and using natural resources with no though of the future. As someone wiser than me said 'We used to live on the interest of the planet, now we are living off the capital'.

"Fracking is a conservative issue because it is a traditonal thing that man sees his envoironment and adapts it to his needs".I don't want to buy into definitions, but if we don't adapt to the realization that we are part of the environment and drop the old view that we are separate from it, we will end up "adapting" our environment so that it no longer meets our needs....and that won't do much for conserving the human (or other) species!

National parks were firstly the initiative of the US under Roosevelt, a keen hunter. There's a tension between their perceived value, either pristine and undisturbed, or as national reserves. If regarded in the second light, the questions then become: what is the "right" time and condition to necessitate calling on those reserves, and who should profit by the action of exploiting them? Admiring the (we assume successful) works of man should not be to the exclusion of acknowledging the cost of failed enterprise that redistributes the penalty to a wider base, not carried solely by the notional entrepreneur, and the immorality of those enterprises that are predicated on assigning notional public benefit into private hands. It's bad when Eddie Obeid's family does it, after all. The Royal National Park south of Sydney had, at the time of its inauguration, considerable plantations of Western Red Cedar, which the first convention of the Park Board permitted to be harvested. The profit went to the harvesters, and the plantations can not be reestablished because of the Cedar Moth larvae that destroys saplings, and in any case, replanted areas will not be "pristine". The natural state of humanity is "warring, stunted little proles" but conservatives consider that alternative "radical", so you're...what....struggling to "conserve" this particular state of humanity? Peter, that's so *heroic* of you... except it's not. Exploitation, not adaptation, is the imperative that drives conservatism.

You shouldn't wonder WGT. According to your mob of alarmists it couldn't possibly have been raining so much recently, you lot, championed by Flammery said that the dams would never be full again.That sea level rises would have inundated half our coast line by now, and that we would all be fried by the hole in the ozone layer, all man made problems of course.So you wonder why we are not conservative when it comes to the environment. Well I can tell you that we are, I have solar panels on my roof, use E10 petrol and have water tanks. Much more I daresay than the majority of you pretend environmentalists.Yes I am conservative when it comes to the scaremongering of your sort because A) You don't like other people making a living or B) You believe in the fairies in the green movement.

Are you stupidly trying to say that the hole in the ozone layer was a hoax? That banning common use of CFCs didn't stop it expanding?Why are so many right wingers scientifically illiterate? Does 'conservative' mean having a flat world mindset and that scientific advance is bad? Universe created in 7 days and man created to worship God and make profits at the expense of the planet?

If its all rubbish science why bother with:"Well I can tell you that we are, I have solar panels on my roof, use E10 petrol and have water tanks."Wouldn't be becuase solar panels make electricty bills cheaper? (and was prob subsidised by the fed govt when you installed it)?E10 is the cheapest petrol available?And water tanks make your water bills cheaper?

Solar panel installation has contributed to a drop in demand for electricity generation. To my mind this is the single most important factor. Conserving water is to be applauded. It leaves more for the people like you who don't bother to nurture our dwindling resources.

Christophus,You have actually hit the nail on the head. Positive outcomes drives behavioural change, in this case saving money.Therefore to make positive changes to encourage a move away from we must work together to effect change.One of my pet peeves is the amount of money spent by organisations such as Greenpeace (whom I used to financially contribute to) on not only high-lighting the issue (which is very important) but spend stupid amounts of money on protest action and subsequent legal representation and logistical activities.I like to be able to turn my computer on whenever I want.I like being able to drive my kids to school/sport/doctors/hospital/etc.I dis-like the fact that there are no viable alternatives that we can turn to because we (every single one of us).If the activist organisations (such as Greenpeace) changed their approach by identifying the issues, proposing "viable" alternatives and helped to fund the construction of infrastructure that provided clean energy that is cheaper than the alternatives then people would make the switch.

Actually I think Flannery is a fool, and the Greens are idiots. I think social progressives hijacking enviromental issues is a bad idea, it should be above petty politics. I just believe that we should be conservative when fiddling about with the planet, which is the only home we've got.

The environmental movement is a social progressive movement that has emerged with the enlightenment of science. The reason the Greens exist is because the Major parties refused to take the environment seriously so as not to offend industry, agriculture or risk the loss of union jobs. The Greens didn't hijack environmental issues, they just refused to ignore them. Unlike for example John Howard who regarded environmentalism as a fad until 1996 when he hijacked the environment as an issue in order to sell off Telstra.Opponents of environmentalism adopt two strategies, they attack the science and they attack the environmentalists. Foolish strategies to say the least.

Whogoesthere,I totally agree with your comment about the world being the only home we've got.I work in the oil and gas industry as a HSE Manager and like health and safety I take a heck of a lot of care to make sure that our organisation does not impact the environment.What irk's me is that farmers do more/have done more damage to this planet by clearing, overgrazing, fertilising, etc. hundreds of thousands of hectares and yet when we put in a 1/4 hectare well pad (usually on an existing farm where there are no trees left in the first place we (rightly) have to jump through a plethora of regulatory hoops that others (i.e. farmers do not - I know this as I grew up in a farming family).

You use E10 petrol?How much more cheap, low-octane fuel do you have to burn to get the same energy (and therefore km's) as the 95 and 98 variants again? E10 is just a cash grab scheme. Come back with E85 and you'd have an argument. Until them, your blatherings about 'your mob' and 'you lot' and 'the majority of you' are boring. Classic conservative 'I generalise because science hurts my brain and facts require effort and environmental conservation is for *fairies* and other less masculine nouns than I would use to describe myself'. Good job, hero.

Farmers are THE most environmentally aware group of people I have ever met. They really do understand the importance of sustainable agriculture, even if it doesn't seem that way to many outside of the agricultural sector. They really do care about damage that has been done in the past on their patch and many are actively involved in trying to address land degradation. As passionate environmentalists, they leave many 'greenies' for dead. Small wonder then that so many of them are involved in the 'lock the gate' movement - they are at the coal-face, so to speak, on the issue of water security threats posed by coal seam gas. Reith is talking through his hat!!!

"Farmers are THE most environmentally aware group of people I have ever met."Unfortunately such a sweeping statement is hard to defend. I have worked with quite a few farmers and some of them have been among the most environmentally aware people I have known. Other farmers have been among the least environmentally aware - and their properties showed it. However a farmer is ultimately compromised in his caring for the environment by the need to survive. This leads to even the best of them being prepared to sacrifice the environment for survival. Many well intentioned farmers also lack the detailed understanding of natural ecosystems needed to manage them sustainably. A case in point is when rice irrigators several years ago claimed that their paddies were environmental havens for water birds. Proper research showed that although there were many birds, most were of a couple of species and many other species were not represented. It also showed that although the birds used the paddies to search for food, there were none breeding there because of lack of suitable habitat.

Skeptic, all generalisations are wrong, even this one. But 'farmers are the THE most environmentally aware...'? Now, about alpine grazing.....

Too right they care.One only has to watch Landline on the ABC or read papers like The Weekly Times to see examples of active conservation.

All that the conservitive party is interested in is the amout of money they can make by selling our resources to the highest bidder and bugger the aussies who get much higher prices for this resource as they want to sell it all overseas . this in turn makes us the consumers pay much more for this comodity they say that free trade is much better for us but the only people who benifit are the multinationals

Try assigning another label to these boys to distinguish them from the conservatives you are defining: 'self-servative'

I've often wondered the same whogoesthere. I think the answer lies in seeing that exploiting and despoiling the environment IS a traditional view and value. Even an institution. Hence the antipathy of people like Peter Reith to the environmental movement.

... and farmers just may be the next to form their own political party... filling the void the Nationals used to occupy before they sold outI find it strange indeed, that any person who cares about the future of their land is deemed radical somehow. Is it really so radical as to want the soil and water to be handed to the next generation in good working order? I think the dictionary needs editing badly, for once I thought that being responsible for the impacts from land use was sensible, while rushing like mad into an unknown chemical deluge in our water tables was lunacy!

This guy, John Elkington, founder of SustainAbility etc, articulates the ground where we might look for conservative environmentalists ( - Excuse the wikipedia ref).Also, it's not a question of conservatives being radical on the environment, rather they're extremists and fundamentalists. Lashing themselves to anachronistic doctrine and dogma.

Peter (fracking)Reith,what can you say,hold on, children overboard,free mobiles from the fracking industry on the table.

Very sensible comment Dave; the issue though, is that the science is in on global warming and we shouldn't be looking to gas reserves in the medium to long term, even if gas is better than brown coal and even if there are no issues with groundwater or fracking.The problem is Reith supports a government that has no interest in supporting the development of alternative energy technologies.......witness the government's intent to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. It is this refusal to develop technologies and industries which will provide both future employment as well as a habitable environment, that is destroying our prosperity. Reith can only see, value and argue for his own he did with his government phone card.

Perfect comedic timing from Mr Reith. Breaking news: "Water experts want mines put on hold". In an open letter to Environment Minister Greg Hunt, 13 water science experts from across Australia have said that mining and coal seam gas extraction can damage aquifers, rivers and water catchments.

'The science is not in...''This is of course a matter of concern. It can be used as a way of denying what is not 'in', or confirmed. It can also be a call for caution.One of the ways to divide the population is to claim a crisis is at hand. So we have the 'crisis' with the arrival of people in boats, the 'economic crisis' which has disappeared like smoke into the ether and the 'climate change crisis (for which some say the science is not 'in' - and now the 'gas crisis'.The claim for the 'gas crisis' is to make us believe that unless we act now, then the prices will soar and jobs will be lost. So we now have a scare campaign in which some are making claims to pursue CSG while others oppose CSG as a crisis we do not need because the science is not 'in'.There are those who say there is no real 'gas crisis' because there is no shortage of gas, according to people at the Grattan Institute.So there is no surprise about Reith's stance. For him Oz is 'open for business' and the movers and shakers out there are out for as much as they can before the 'science is in'. And if it means trampling on the land of farmers, so be it. It will be interesting to see the stance of the National Party. We know how the Greens feel about it.It is advantageous for the CSG advocates to delay the science for as long as possible. And even if a poor report does arise, you can be sure there will be rapid denial of its validity, just as we see with Climate Change.It's all about the money, stupid.

Dave,However, there are people who've studies the mining industry over the past decades. One example is Paul Cleary who, in Mine Field - The Dark Side of Australia's Resources Rush, writes:"Whether it be coal-seam gas, LNG or coal mega-mines, a resources rush is happening in just about every productive corner of our country. Yet at the same time oversight and regulation have been hollowed out. High-risk projects are being approved without proper assessment of the long-term consequences. Water resources, farmland and national parks are under threat, and people, communities and industries are being steamrolled."The book talks about political pay offs and croynyism and that Australia is a push-over when it comes to extracting appropriate sums of money from the Big Miners in return for their rapacious extraction of our national resources.

Of course if your farm happens to be stuffed up because fracking puts toxic muck in the water table that'll be dismissed as alarmist malarky by the likes of you too!

Fracking scare campaigns threaten prosperity?Fracking threatens water supplies. Watch Gasland and see why people are rightly concerned.

I watched it very carefully and have listened to both sides of the story.Gasland is very misleading and appears to have an agenda.A dispassionate doco would have been far more informative.I suspect Fracking mystique might go the same way as cholesterol appears to be!

"Gasland is very misleading and appears to have an agenda." As oppossed to the gas industry or the Liberal governments who have consistently supported profit over people?

Last I looked it was previous Labor governments that handed out the CSG licenses around like confetti. The last Labor government in NSW even gave them a royalty holiday as well. It was Labor governments that exempted CSG companies from having to pay for the massive amounts of water they use. The current LNP governments are admittedly continuing the rape. The greed seems to be bipartisan.

The last Labor government in NSW was the first to introduce a moratorium on gas well fracking in 2010

All governments like to pretend to do the right thing just before they get booted out. I'm predicting the Oh Feral government will be no different.

There you go being concerned about the water. There's no profit in water, at least not until it's all been contaminated. BTW there is nothing wrong with smoking, and asbestos does not make you sick. These are just lies told by alarmists.

Farmers need water in order to make a profit. Most dairying relies on irrigation either from rivers or bores (i.e. underground water). The greatest danger would be what can happen to underground water supplies from aquifers. If it gets buggered up it cannot be repaired. No water, no irrigation and no grass year-round therefore no milk/cheese etc. and no profit etc. (Just correcting the mistake you made in your comment.)

-Fracking threatens water supplies.- I just assumed when Mr Reith uses the word ?threat- he means a threat to money.

Watch 4 Corners from 2011 for similar stories.

The truth threatens short term prosperity. So don't expect much of it from either Reith or any of his supporters.

Why should I watch a heavily biased, misleading, and anti-scientific documentary?I'd be better off reading some research papers on the subject for an objective view, wouldn't I?Santos has been fracking "tight sand" oil/gas wells (under the Great Artesian Basin) in the Cooper Basin for decades, yet no one has said a word about that...

James, I'm sure that all the information you would want could be found in Santos' promotional pamphlet,Though I'm not certain that they are likely to be giving you the full story.It would of course depend on the depth they do any fracking at in relation to the depth of any water courses.

I'm sure those people who were labelled as throwers of children into the sea a while back would agree with the message about scare campaigns.They might just have a teensy problem with the messenger though.

@MJLC, I could not agree more. I read the headline on the story and thought 'Oh my lordie, who in their right mind whould think that?', then I saw who the author was. Honestly after the Farmers Federation backed the sacking of the workers at the Patrick's terminal in 1997 under Reiths watch, then as you yourself mentioned 'Children overboard' . . .'nothing to look at here folks' according to Reith on what planet does Reith think anyone would respect his opinion?Here is an illustration of a person who's perception of his importance is quite a way from the actual importance by which the community holds him in.The only thing this joker has going for him is that now that the LNP are running the show, its back on the gravey train for him!

It's just me doing my little bit to try and get closer to my conservative brethren with some constructive empathy MPD - they don't like listening to experts on climate change, I don't like listening to experts on demonisation.

"they don't like listening to experts on climate change, I don't like listening to experts on demonisation."I think yuou will find they are the one and same!

No, I doubt no matter how many times I banged my head into a wall, or how many hallucinogenic drugs I took, I'd ever be able to find that.

They don't like listening to experts on anything, because the experts always disagree with them.They think it is better to listen to loonies and shock jocks.

I agree MJLC,As a related issue, I used to watch The Drum at every opportunity. At first I thought Reith's regular appearances to be of comedic value so didn't mind so much. But he constantly rubbishes everything and anything not his own agenda, talks over everyone, and takes over the whole show. These days I find him being on so often is too much an insult to any thinking persons intelligence and have to switch channels when he is on.Sad, as he is ruining a perfectly good tv show, and prob driving the audience away. Its supposed to be a reasonable debate. Not a shameless soapbox.

You can't have a "reasonable debate" without both sides being involved.It's paid for by every taxpayer.

Quite so, MJLC and thanks for doing your bit to point out the continued unreliability of anything that Reith says. The problem is that for those on the "right", truth is what suits your agenda of the moment. It's a very convenient definition, doing away with all that bother of having to understand what's happening and how the natural world functions, to think, to verify details, to listen to others and so on. Such time wasting issues when we could just be making more money!

And for those on the left Rosie, truth is what issues from the backsides of the Adam Bandts of this world and you lot lap it up like manna from heaven.

I suppose if you want to use that line of thinking I'd simply point out that in a comparison between someone like Adam Bandt and an Alan Jones of this world the difference is that Adam has the good breeding to deposit his manna on a plate with a side salad and some garnish, whereas Jones sprays his all over your loungeroom walls and then cleans up the serving receptacle by rubbing it on your carpet.At least you always have the option of refusing the plate.

Come on MJ the ALP are the best scare mongers going around.First and always in the top pocket is work-choices with the newly found very fashionable climate change or global warming scare depending on the extremity the scare requires.Clearly the ALP has yet to get the message so far.......Have they ditched the carbon tax yet?

Oh really Custard if the anti Workchoices campaign was just a scare campaign then why is Abbott still running away? And the Coalition never does scare campaigns? Quite apart from Abbott's Carbon tax "Wrecking ball that was demoted to a Cobra strike" and then a "Python Squeeze", we have the NSW Energy Minister Hartcher claiming that "unless we dramatically increase production of CSG, NSW will have to "import" its gas from other states." Fact is eastern Australia is a single gas market, and that there are no import restrictions between states.

And what happens after the gas is all used up, and we find we have poisoned the ground water for hundreds of years?The mining industry is rushing to secure CSG deposit sources, and lock in overseas contracts, before dozens of other countries start their gas wells, and swamp the market.Fracking has caused problems in America, and to attempt to deny these problems and rewrite history, is exaxtly why the general public is against this.

Unfortunately the 'proof' is not finalised. How many decades of destruction do you think it will take till they sit up and say "Oops we might have been wrong. Sorry"

"How many decades of destruction do you think it will take till they sit up and say "Oops we might have been wrong. Sorry""answer: about 25 years after the all the profits and assets of the industry have been distributed to the shareholders leaving bankrupted shell companies that have no ability to pay any compensation or rectify their mistakes.

What, like Rachel Carson's supporters have ever admitted they were wrong?How many more will die of Malaria before Carson is seen as the environmental disaster she is.

Fracking has been proven to cause earthquakes in America. Not just single earthquakes but "earthquake swarms".

MarkWhile I agree with your post,(fracking has caused problems in U.S.A),just a small bit of research will show problems in Aus.Toxic chemicals used for CSG extraction,saline water are put in tailing dams in concentrated amounts.More wells=more toxic tailings.What I would like to read is a report from a panel of independent hydrologists on the effects of CSG extractions on water tables.Given that water is our second most important commodity and we live on the driest continent.Reith you can't drink or eat profits,maybe a 1 exception for you,dribble.

If it is so safe and poses no threat to quality of either catchment or aquifer water then the companies seeking to exploit the resource would be happy to see independent testing done including baseline testing of water quality. This doesn't appear to be happening in NSW where the company involved (AGL)has paid for an independent expert to conduct a thorough review of the hyro-geology of Gloucester basin, but is now rushing to start fracking before any results are in or any baseline testing ahs been done........if it is so safe....why the rush?

A good point Alex. It seems crazy that with our resources becoming so depleted & asked to do more to cater for more people that we don't call an independent baseline quailty study on ALL significant waterways across Australia. It's too important to rely on ad hoc studies or research commissioned by the people attempting to exploit a particular resource. What a worthwhile initiative that would be long be referred to going forward. How about the Hunt Baseline Australian Water Quality Study?

Lets face it , most of these green people who agitate against nearly all things, went to Uni so they wouldn't have to get a proper job except the qualification that a little knowledge gives them the right to screw with other persons livelihoods and progress in general.

And so LL, please do explain to all of us, are the farmers potentially affected by fracking also "agitators" against nearly all things, and they went to Uni and wouldn't have to get a proper job?.... Stay away from rural Australia my dear, you don't want to confront a farmer when s/he gets truly angry....

Yep. Those without education understand the situation better than those with an education. Good argument.

It all depends upon the education. Most arts graduates don't get an education these days, just useless left-wing indoctrination.

Peter, even presuming your swipe at "left wing indoctrination" was correct, I think that when LeftRightOut was talking about those with an education understanding the situation (with regard to coal seam gas), he or she was probably referring to those with an education in the sciences. Try to keep the arguments coherent please.

"most of these green people who agitate against nearly all things, went to Uni so they wouldn't have to get a proper job."Lol... Who would have thought going to uni was just for fun, required no effort, and was not to get a proper job so you don't have to stay up all night and eat packet noodles anymore.Please tell us more how useless the sacrifices of getting educated were.

Quite pompous peter the lawyer from Perth : Melb : Syd : Opera house accompanied by alan jonesArts degree V Law degree,what's the most disliked profession? whats the most useless profession?

I'm a lawyer too Peter. So I know a lot of other lawyers. And it seems to me that a good arts degree wouldn't go astray with most of them. Something to take the edge off their professional pomposity, and air of bored condescension. I'm sure you know what I mean.

Education doesn't necessarily lead to understanding, especially with so many of the "educated" having very little life experience apart from their sheltered workshop Uni'.

Not sure how you got the chip on your shoulder, Lil, but do you want anyone fracking who does not have qualifications in geology? I agree, the scare campaign is overstated. However, careful environmental monitoring before, during and after, at the expense of the driller, is essential. Peter is ignoring the issues around contaminated holding ponds and the use of limited water supplies for the fracking - not mistakes, part od the process. This is all manageable, but it does need a good deal of green tape.

Orator Demosthenes, true, although green tape is apparently being unravelled by the bucket-load especially in "progressive" Queensland something I believe their Minister for Natural Resources and Mines is very proud of.

Yeah, I guess those engineers in the mining industry went to uni to.Tell me, LL, did your doctor and dentist go to uni?Would you be happy to have lead in your paint in petrol? Asbestos in your house? Aerial DDT sprayed overhead? Please have a look at the word "progress" and work out if you want to pay a premium for scarce water because most of it has been contaminated.

When the argument is based on greed and profits - one doesn't require a Uni Degree to work out what will be the end result.Just take a look at some of the mining "ventures" around the world that have left the environment raped and in such a state that it will take a thousand years or never to recover from the lust of profits in lieu of necessity.

L.L I have family members who own a farm on the darling downs in qld who I visited in sept. We went to a 21st birthday party at Clifton and I met some of there friends who are farmers also and after a few beer's they started to tell me about people getting sick near wells with headache's e.t.c. So I would believe them before anyone else so unless you think the farmers are lying I suggest you do some research as you do not seem to understand much in regards to coal seam and the health issue's it is causing on the darling downs. Regards mark from rural s.a.

What about the farmers Mark a: who know of people getting sick living too close to wind farms, do you believe them too?You charlatans just cherry pick what suits you.

Too many inconsistencies in the wind turbine syndrome "incidents" to take it seriously at this stage (for example, low frequencies of reported illness in countries like Germany and Denmark despite considerable installed capacity).However, being a chemist I can tell you a bit about the chemicals that have been known to contaminate water supplies near CSG fracking wells, and the documented effects they have on human health. As such I am inclined to take mark's anecdote a little more seriously than yours at this stage, based on available evidence.

Please do tell us... show us the studies & name the chemicals they've actually used in Australia, don't just tease us with claims you know stuff, prove it.

OK, it's not just methane that comes out of fracking (although that is the main constituent). Other light hydrocarbons (examples include pentane, hexane, heptane and octane, as well as isomers of the C5-C8 hydrocarbons listed above such as 2-methylbutane), and aromatics of comparable molecular mass (benzene, tolune, the xylenes etc.) are also present, and water tables near fracking sites are continually monitored for these. Most of these chemicals are capable of making you ill. That some of them are constituents in petrol should give you a clue. The long-term effects of some of them are even more disconcerting (benzene being one of the scariest owing to its carcinogenicity).Unfortunately, if they do end up contaminating water tables (which doesn't happen every time admittedly), a considerable amount of damage has already been done.

Little Lil.....a bit more thought could be useful here! Peter Reith who studied law at Monash Uni......perhaps that's so he "didn't have to get a proper job except the qualification that a little knowledge gives him the right to screw with other persons livelihoods and progress in general"......does that better describe his role as a lawyer or a politician?

Oh those leprous folk with all that learning and knowledge! Who ever got a proper job from being educated. Bah! What a waste of time, what has knowledge ever done for our species!?Yup, that's right, you heard it here first," knowledge hampers progress".

Hello Little LilAs a person with a Uni degree, I have a lot of contact with fellow graduates, and all of us are working long hours in 'proper jobs'. The process involved in getting that qualification, opened up and changed my 'black and white' thinking. It is given to me through that process, to question all 'knowledge' and to challenge accepted prejudices.Peter Reith's article is open to many challenges Little Lil. If I were you, I would bust my cotton socks to get into Uni, and learn that things are not black and white but, lets face it, nearly all things have many many shades of grey (and even green).

Bit shallow! I went to uni, but I also work with my hands in the dirt everyday! Sometimes intelligence is not about education or pretending to be educated, and being sensible is not about NOT being educated, but about having an open and receptive mind, one which does not resort to labels and unsupported allegations in the course of a debate!!!

Little Lil,Your GP is one of those UNi people who you say is screwing around with people's livelihoods.Of course you may not go to a GP,you may prefer the Quacks and Charlatans.

little lilThis form of indoctrination happened in Nazi Germany 1930s,burning books of knowledge and history are a weapon of mass destruction used by the dull against progressive fact induced searchers.65yr old worked at a bakery when I was 14yr old, 4am-8am then went to school 5d/week".Let's face it", thoughtless comment.

Well Peter, a good way to test whether fracking might be harmful to farms and and the environment would be to wait for the US EPA report in early 2014. The US Association for Energy Economics who you cite is mostly interested in the economic outcomes/profitable use of energy by industry, not the possibility of damage to those not in the industry.Being opposed to fracking because it may be dangerous isn't the same as being opposed to developing gas reserves.

Deep fracking of shales in the US has nothing to do with the Australian CSG debate.Different technology, different rules, different geology, different gas source.

Why let facts get in the way of a good rant?I don't claim fracking, or CSG cavitation and water extraction is risk-free at all. No sane person would do so, but it'd be nice if the party politics was given a rest, and people actually looked into some facts before getting carried away...

There is no gas crisis, there is plenty of gas available for both export and domestic consumption. The gas companies are fracking everywhere so they can build up their inventories of gas deposits and thereby boost their share values.The valuse they do not have and do not care a whit about are the community values, the environmental values and any suggestion that the natural resources of this country belong to all of us.People like Peter Reith just push the business line. They have no understanding of what is right or any moral values. When Abbott boasted that "Australia was open for business." (Read for sale/for exploitation) The Reithists of this country must have been unable to contain their excitement.Lies, plunder and deceit is our immediate lot in life and will be until a popular revulsion will lead to us kicking this greedy, elitist and selfish mob out.

Let us also not overlook the fact that we are self sufficient in gas today and drilling for more will give us export possibilities, which sounds wonderful.But once we are exporting the price will be floated the same as oil is and the domestic price will rise appreciably to match the international price and as always we the mug punter will be screwed by big business with the profits going overseas.

Good point. It will be interesting to see how Australians react when they realise why they're paying more for gas. Although I'm sure with some constructive spin it will somehow be entirely Labor's fault.

If there is plenty of gas and companies are building up their reserves, then we should expect the price to drop. Let's hope you are right.

your ignorance is cute. do you think that happened with oil? or do you think to maximise the value of our resource the gas price will be floated to the international level meaning we start paying more.

Peter Reith begins by saying "The scare campaigns surrounding fracking have been allowed to run for far too long and will have adverse repercussions for living standards"He is completely correct.The scare campaign run by the fracking industry suggesting that everyone will suffer economically if we don't frack up our precious ground water is utter BS and have certainly run too long.The industry has already been caught out outright misrepresenting (yes I said it nicely) their activities and the ramifications to the wider environment.You can keep your flaming water, I prefer mine without poisons in it thank you very much.And i'm certain our future generations would rather have clean water than a handful of slightly wealthier offshore shareholders.

The Joint Venture partners are:Woodside (operator and largest stakeholder)Shell Development (Australia)BP Developments AustraliaJapan Australia LNG (MIMI Browse)PetroChina International Investment (Australia)The gas will be processed using technology developed by Shell - Floating LNG (FLNG) plants, which, are, as the name suggests, offshore... or will be when they are finished.Shell has not yet taken delivery of the worlds first FLNG plant, which is being built in the only (commercial) shipyard in the world big enough to do it - in Korea.

G day James yea I've got goggle too.I also remember the day the decision was made to use FLNG and it was announced by shell.Keep goggling and you will learn of other wells in the browse area 100% owned by Shell, and it was at these wells the first decision was made to use FLNG.

There would be no doubt that the Victorian Government got the report it wanted, otherwise why would they have appointed Peter Reith?Half of his article is dedicated to slagging the Greens. I do not know whether that is productive. Actually I think I have heard more concerns emanating from the National Party that the Greens. I am sure he has too, but prefers to ignore that fact.If he is to factually convince people, and that really means all people, not necessarily conservatives of his ilk, that fracking can be carried out without harm to the environment, no doubt every one will be pleased.The headline to his article appears to be overkill.

You know you're being misleading don't you Peter...1. The proposed gas shortage as a reason for higher east coast gas prices has been exposed as deceitful. Prices will rise cos theyv bhave to compete with LNG world price parity when we start exporting2. You make farmers & town community members sound like scare campaigners & radical activists3. Fraccing has been around since the 1940s but never practised on anywhere close to the current scale4. Let's hear from Roma people in 10 years. There are so many unknowns with fraccing - that's the scary part. Besides what might be acceptable & applicable in Roma can't be replicated in all other parts of the country; some of which will have many more competing land uses

Yes, indeed, gas prices will go up, but that seems to be an important fact overlooked by many.Tight-sand fraccing has been conducted by Santos for years and years... by comparison, the complexity and intensity of fracture stimulation work done on CSG wells is insignificantRoma has very very long associations (starting in the early 1900's) with the oil and gas industry, and many years with CSG development too... and I am sure if there were problems, we'd all know about it by now, given the importance of agriculture in the area.Geomechanical studies allow for very accurate prediction of fracture orientation, length of propagation, and the pressure needed to fracture the desired target. It's certainly not guess-work, and the studies aren't done by morons...Yes, there are risks, and nothing is always perfect, but there are many other things in the world more "scary" than fraccing.

So we're running out of easy oil, so let's use gas. - excellant So we frack away until there's no gas - then what ?. When are we ever going to start thinking long term. Fossil fuels are not a long term answer to anything. When will a mainstream politician say this ?. Never I guess.

I don't know enough to make a judgement. It shouldn't be ignored without reason. The issues of costs to build the plants, costs to decommission, cost of storing waste need to be considered.

"He did mention Nuclear .. is that not long term enough for you?"Based on the World Nuclear Association's estimates on proven reserves and rate of consumption, no. Not unless there are substantial and sudden improvements in breeder reactors or the thorium cycle, or improvements in the extraction of uranium from sources that are currently uneconomical (such as sea water).However, I think fusion (aka solar) might last a while.

The World Nuclear Association's predictions about fuel longevity are based on the old, conventional light water reactor technology. Further reading of the WNA website reveals that fast breeders (FNRs or IFRs) are well advanced in research. About 20 reactors have already been operating, some since the 1950s, and some supplying electricity commercially. This technology uses fuel 100 times more efficiently, so will last for millennia, plenty of time to develop real fusion energy technology, which has the prospect of supplying vast amounts of energy, for longer even that the sun will last. Strange that you missed that important bit of information on the WNA website and instead picked out the information that matched your preconceived ideas. ie Solar not Nuclear.But not surprising for someone who thinks that we face mass extinctions from climate change (though I don't see the IPCC making such alarmists predictions). I wonder if this might turn out to be another Flannery moment? And again, not surprising form someone who declares that a valid hypothesis, that meets all reasonable criteria of evidence by observation and nuclear chemistry, and yet refuses to accept it because it is not mainstream. It is so disappointing to discover that in these enlightened times, there are still those who think scientific validity is determined by a show of hands.

If we're going to be rational about nuclear energy, it would entail accepting that we've learned from our experiments that the only safe long term source of nuclear power is the sun. Not to mention, the most easily accessed.Big business and ideological tribalism might like to push the idea of building reactors with all kinds of Titanic-like promises of 'unbeatable safeguards' and 'this time it'll work for sure' and 'we'll bury the radioactive waste in somebody else's backyard, no problem', but the real world evidence doesn't stack up. I do accept that there's a lot of money to be made out of nuclear by big companies, and that it would keep energy companies in the game. As opposed to solar, which could make people more self sufficient. It's understandable that would be repugnant to any pro-business ideologue.

Peter, As Reith suggests Greens are continuing to run an irrational scare campaign, and you are just repeating all of the tired old clich?s.The dangers you perceive in nuclear power come from technology that was invented and deployed in the 1950s. In 2013, nuclear fission technology and reactor design is already far safer than you understand. According to one study in the US, it is safer than solar power (in terms of deaths/kWh). These are not claims by big business, but independently researched facts.Also you continue to be concerned about nuclear waste. That problem has already been solved. Google "Forsmark waste repository", and notice that the residents of Forsmark are being very rational and welcome the benefits of overcoming their unjustified fears about having nuclear waste "in their backyard".You attach big business only to nuclear power. In fact solar power is far more lucrative to big business, as all of the energy provision comes from the initial sale of the PV panels or thermal plant (more money and profit / MW capacity compared to nuclear). And there is also ongoing business to energy companies in the sale of batteries and gas turbine backup plants. Why do you think BP and are investing so much in solar power? Altruism?And what about gas turbine backup? These are necessary to balance the variable loads that come from intermittent renewables like solar and wind. Hence the need for more gas, hence more fracking. Is that what you really want?And finally, you have missed the main reason why nuclear will continue to be a more viable solution than solar power, and that is cost. Solar is just way too expensive, currently 3 times the cost of baseload nuclear /kWh delivered. Until that issue is solved (and there really is no sign of it happening soon), solar is not a rational choice for our energy supply, and will remain a tiny fraction of global capacity.

Greig, exactly what part of "at the rate of current consumption" do you not understand? "The World Nuclear Association's predictions about fuel longevity are based on the old, conventional light water reactor technology. Further reading of the WNA website reveals that fast breeders (FNRs or IFRs) are well advanced in research. About 20 reactors have already been operating, some since the 1950s, and some supplying electricity commercially."Wow, a whole 20 fast breeder reactors built over a period of 60 years! Somehow, that doesn't give me much confidence that they're ready. Anecdote from the French experience with this (such as coolant leaks, when the coolant is Na/K alloy) might give you a hint as to why they're not very popular. As one who has been quick to point out the large number of nuclear power plants in planning in China, perhaps you could tell us how many of them are fast breeder reactors. Or how many fast breeder reactors have been built since 2000 in Japan, or USA, or France, or Germany."But not surprising for someone who thinks that we face mass extinctions from climate change..."I thought, looking at the fossil record, that this would have been obvious."And again, not surprising form someone who declares that a valid hypothesis, that meets all reasonable criteria of evidence by observation and nuclear chemistry..."Talking about the hypothesis that the sun is ~99% iron? Pity you don't know enough basic theoretical and observational physics to see why this is BS. It's getting tiring though Greig. You should find some other fringe theory by one of your denialist heroes (I think Roy Spencer is a creationist) and try to defend that for a bit of variation.

Dr Who, I am not confused about the issue of "current rate of consumption". I think you are the one who is confused about nuclear technology and how it works.The situation now is that light water reactors are lowest cost, and whilst FBRs are available commercially there is at this stage no need to take the step because conventional technology produce waste that can be used to fuel the FBRs in the future. So it doesn't matter if we run out of uranium ore, because in 80 years we can replace LWRs with FBRs and continue to produce power. It's simply a matter of economics.And safety is not an issue either. Of course, all new technology has teething issues, its to be expected. With nuclear power we are well beyond that, and now have a safe and clean technology which can reliably and continuously provide power at the world's ever increasing rate of consumption, where solar power cannot because it is expensive and intermittent.Regarding Manuel's iron sun theory, it remains a valid hypothesis because it has not been disproved, and that is how science works. Demanding that it is BS because I "don't know enough basic theoretical and observational physics" does not amount to a valid analysis of the theory and evidence. The fact is, I don't care whether Manuel's theory is right or wrong. What I care about is that people like you misrepresent scientific method in matters such as climate change by assuming that consensus opinion is relevant to scientific validity. And I will never tire of pointing out that misrepresentation.

Are you kidding? There is 5000 years of uranium in known reserves (when using IFRs). And that does not include reserves as yet undiscovered, made available by better mining technology. Including extraction form seawater.And what about the prospect of thorium, there is 4 times as much of that compared to uranium.There is heaps of nuclear fuel. There is no compelling reason not to use the resource if it is a better, cheaper solution compare to renewables. And it is.

There is no greenhouse benefit from using nuclear. There has been a significant nuclear accident about every five years or so. Each time the governments responsible spend enormous amounts of time energy and expertise in trying to fix it up, usually badly. As soon as you factor in the cost in energy of all the accidents and then try factoring in the cost in energy of looking after the waste its obvious that there is no greenhouse benefit. You just add up the numbers.The sun and the wind though are clearly the best options but its a bit harder for the current mining barons to make money out of it.

That must be at current rates. My understanding is, if you replace the world's coal fired power stations with nuclear, the uranium would last about 40 years.

The title of the article should be "Australian consumers paying same price as (abundant) exported gas threatens our prosperity". This situation should not have been allowed to occur in the first place by ensuring domestic needs were safeguarded.

Talk about a scare campaign, telling everyone the price of gas will go up if we don't frack. Why not increase the price of gas we export (almost give away at the moment) and lower the domestic price. Australia is one of the most resource rich countries in the world and yet the Australian people are paying exorbitant prices for gas and power.

The price of gas we export is determined by the world-wide market. If you think we can just increase the price to suit ourselves, then you have gas in your head.

"gas has much lower emissions than brown coal" - but it is still a fossil fuel that produces greenhouse emmisions that are causing problems for our planet."Greens also oppose nuclear power" - so does any right minded person, it isn't just the greenies but also those of a more central (and even right wing) political leaning. You only need to look at the corporate negligence all over the world and in particular in Japan to see why nuclear power is inherently unsafe. Not to mention the vast number of leaks of radioactive material from nuclear waste repositories."Gas also essential to the use of wind power, as wind power needs to be supplemented because it is not always available" - Gas is not needed. Wind power can be used in conjunction with other clean renewable power sources to provide all the power we need.Gas is simply unnecessary.Thanks for the franking industry lobby group propaganda though Peter.

To supply base-load power for all our needs from wind-power would require millions of wind turbines across the entire country. Is that what you are advocating?

Anyone who thinks our energy needs can be supplied from renewable sources is so far divorced from reality as to be not worth arguing with.When the handouts stop the subsidy slurpers will all move on to the next big scare and the rooftops and landscapes will be littered with the detritus of this last subsidy boom.

I've heard that some wind farms on islands in Bass straight have been sold to Chinese interests at a profit.Those Chinese see value in the future no doubt.

Burke, the need for Baseload power is one of Howard / Minchin & co's myths, read "Busting the baseload power myth" , if you honestly believe that I would highly recommend that you read "Why the U.S. Power Grid's Days Are Numbered"

Reinhardt, You put up as proof opinion pieces, one by David Mills who has something of a commercial vested interest in the subject.Baseload power is not a myth foisted upon us by conservative politicians, they are simply brave enough to try to communicate the unpopular facts to the population, whilst the Greens stick to happy/smiley meaningless slogans. If you don't believe me, I suggest you disconnect your house from the grid. When you have learned how much it costs in solar panels and batteries (environmentally friendly?), then try to imagine reliably powering commerce and industry (over 80% of he power load) with intermittent renewable technology.Then you will understand what is meant by "baseload".

Two concepts you seem to have trouble understanding Greig:1. "Peak" vs "off-peak" power, and why there are different rates, and 2. State grids (and how that can even out fluctuations in multiple intermittent sources - ie. no sun in Sydney doesn't necessarily mean no sun in Broken Hill, and no sun does not equate no wind, as a couple of examples).

Of course they are opinion pieces , they are the opinions of 1: DR David Mills , a reknowned (and retired) scientist who pioneered Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) technology He has NO commercial vested interest in the subject.2: David Crane, chief executive officer of NRG Energy, a wholesale power company based in Princeton, N.J. "

I love it. The gnome is anti science when it comes to climate change but pro science when it comes to fracking.Personally I am pro science on both counts. But I don't think mining corporations can be trusted when it comes to performing their tasks 100% safely. For reference refer to the Gulf of Mexico

The gnome is pro-science all round, but sneers at what passes for science when global warming is at issue. What you should do, Poll, is try to separate the science from the conjecture, and you will find the gnome is wedded to logic. It is the conjecture the gnome rejects.History is on the side of science, and on the side of the gnome.

" but sneers at what passes for science when global warming is at issue"then quick, write up your paper and collect your nobel prize for disproving it all "History is on the side of science, and on the side of the gnome."so not on the side of every scientific body on the planet then? but rather on the side of one conservative poster on an online forum. yes Im convinced. the only thing on your side seems to be arrogance and a complete inability to understand the mountains of data that completely disagrees with you.

The gnome is more wedded to the stock market than he is to science or logic. What logic is there to ignore all the data that supports climate change and only cherry pick data that neither confirms or refutes it?

Millions of expired gas mines some of which have damage the ground by fracking is what you would prefer?Yes all energy gained by using a limited source will be subject to price rises due to it's limited supply.The price of sunshine and wind will remain the same.Every % of energy supplied by renewables means a % less required by burning fossil fuels.It takes more energy to get water to boiling point than what is required to keep water at boiling point.Gas and coal could be used to keep water at that boiling point until the steam is required to give the base load that the sun and the wind cannot supply at times. Therefore less gas and coal would needed to be burnt, i.e. less cost to the economy and the environment.

Unfortunately rusty, the mining companies and their shills in the government (libs and labs included) will not stop until every bit of carbon that is currently sitting safely underground is released into the atmosphere.There is way too much money involved.

Unfortunately Poll, you are trying to force up the price of energy, with the able connivance of the energy suppliers.

Arr yes, had to shoot every Thylacine in Tasmania before they killed every sheep in Tasmania, about the same time introduce the fox on the Australian mainland. Everything must be done to protect the money coming, with a little bit of home comfort thrown in. Environmental damage is nothing compared to having a mansion to live in.

You can get baseload power from solar thermal instead. Easy. Other countries are doing so should we - we've got bucket loads of sun.

" only need to look at the corporate negligence all over the world and in particular in Japan to see why nuclear power is inherently unsafe. "While I'm not completely opposed to nuclear energy the behaviour of Tepco does worry me. I remember before the Fukushima accident nuclear experts pointing to Japan as an example of best practice when it comes to nuclear energy.

Gas is also less energy dense than coal and oil. That is, we need a lot more of it to do the same amount of work that coal and oil does. EROEI mate, EROEI.

"Another favourite claim surrounds the Condamine River in Queensland. The first report from the department "confirmed that bubbling gas observed in the Condamine River poses no risk to the environment or to human or animal health". If you're so sure Peter, go up there and drink the water. Explain why mining should get the benefit of doubt over farming?

Cow seam gas?Get the piplines in there. Prolem solved Burke. Actually renewable bio gas tech is already being done in many different ways (more humanely - of course). And no mining required at all.

My issue is economic rationalisation at expense of environment and if we do go fwd with fracking, I'd like to see a nationalized industry that is heavily regulated and strong enviro laws - not the private sector involved. They have shown how "trustworthy" they are in several sectors and that they are a law unto themselves. Also, a nationalized industry removes the threat of pollies having conflicts of interest by being shareholders or on boards of private mining and energy companies.

Sorry Pete3, this government has more loyalty to big industry than to the electorate. Look at the things they're cutting back. Haven't seen one that has a negative impact on big business. Just on ordinary and sometimes vulnerable people.

Brilliant! Nationalised industries have been such a stunning success everywhere. Take Venezuelan oil as a shining example. If you really want more nationalised industries then go live in North Korea.

burke, it doesn't help to point to a third world abuse. The only reason Abbott can sell off Medibank Private (a nationally owned commercial enterprise) is because it's hugely successful.cherry-picking your arguments is an act of desperation.

It's also interesting that he points to North Korea rather than China. Pretty sure China is has a number of state owned companies!

An example more appropriate to Australia is Norway where oil & gas company Statoil is majority owned by Govt. They have used profits to establish a future fund for the country and its people that is now worth 700 billion US.

An example more appropriate to Australia is Norway where oil & gas company Statoil is majority owned by Govt. They have used profits to establish a future fund for the country and its people that is now worth 700 billion US.

and if you want to live in a free market where there is no nanny state, go live in Haiti. see? we can all make stupid comments like you have, try actually adding something worthwhile. like how your anti-Govt owned opinions stacks up against the Scandanavians that have large scale, profitable Govt owned energy industries that put profit back to the people, rather than here where 85% goes straight offshore as shareholder profits.

Australia needs jobs, it needs energy and it needs gas. It is good to hear a reasoned argument from Peter Reith after some of self serving scare campaigns we are subjected to. It seems to me that this issue has been high jacked by the wilderness groups and certain farm lobbies for their own benefits. The hypocrisy and misinformation is sad. Visiting in America recently I mentioned the gas from taps as seen on the Gasland documentary and was told that it had always happened, as Reith says. Let's get a reasoned debate happening, mining is an important part of our economy and employs many. We need farms and we need mining, and jobs for our people.

Jobs, Jobs Jobs.... even if it kills us. Even a moron should know there are far better ways than fracking.

I am all for reasoned debate Lynx, but I have yet to hear Reith and the gas companies engage in reasoned debate and not scare campaigns about how we will lose our prosperity and be living in caves if we don't do as they want. If you are concerned about jobs, no doubt what Reith and the gas companies say, sounds reasonable to you. The trouble is, they leave out all the issues which are problematic, particularly where the environment is concerned. In Australia, we take a clean and healthy environment for granted and so dismiss those who are concerned about it, as hijacking debates. But when you think it through, it doesn't matter how many jobs you have or haven't or how prosperous we are, if our climate is inhospitable for us and our agriculture and if water resources are scarce.......we need to think about these issues in advance, not when they are an emergency. What is being said by those concerned about the environment, is very reasoned.......the trouble is, it's not what many want to know about.

On his past political record I personally would take anything Reith says with a very large grain of salt including this latest effort on fracking. Once the damage is done by this process it cannot be reversed. In a country like ours with a limited amount of good farming land this needs to be very carefully assessed as to where,how and if at all this process should be allowed.

Nice attempt at distracting the readers from the main issue, Peter. Fracking doesn't oppose the gas industry against the Greens. In reality fracking opposes the gas industry against land owners and farmers. It is Mining against Agriculture, not Mining against Green activism. In fact, fracking may push traditional conservative farmers towards the Greens (this is already happening) thus further eroding the stronghold of the National Party on rural Australia. Until the issue of fracking vs. agriculture (let alone environmental health) is not resolved, the Liberals will be facing resistance.

Alpo : you are right on the money. This is an issue which squares the two halves of the Coalition against each other : the full-tilt free market Liberal folk, who follow big business, such as Reith, against the Nationals, who are primarily a farming lobby group.It's very convenient to have a mob such as 'greens' to blame, though.

So naturally the mutually agreed outcome will be a diversion of the State Royalties to landholders: a net transfer of the common wealth on top of the existing 4 5 & 6 figure compensation payments. This will be done with much applauding by those who have the most to lose: the average punter who wants the state to fund hospitals and schools. Turkeys, voting for Christmas as usual.

Intellectually and morally they have always been the poor relations, but socially and financially the old money has always ruled, and your pretentions to having the same interests as them does you no credit. You may think yourself their equal, but they will only use you and spit you out afterwards.Those "no trespassing" signs are aimed at you, just as much as at the gas miners.

They are the ginger step children in the coalition family in the way their electorates get nothing from the relationship apart from being allowed to sit at the big table and one of them becomes acting PM when the Lib leader goes on holidays. Which is probably all they deserve even though they are the ones that deliver the coalition into power every time. When was the last time the Libs would have been able to form government on their own? Never.The country cousins get nothing from coalition governments and rely on Labor getting into power to get anything happening out there. But they still vote National Party? Go figure

How predictable to see the usual parade of city spivs holding forth on the bush. You wouldn't have a clue what's its like to work 24/7 365 days a year, few if any holidays, enduring droughts, floods cyclones, fires, pestilence, rigged commodity prices and watching a roll call of gormless middle men punching your product's ticket all way to the kitchen table. Wake up!

I actually have the utmost respect for farmers. My in-laws used to own a pub half way between Orange and Wellington in NSW and I have met heaps of farmers who work extremely hard. I even helped out a few times myself but thankfully came back to the city to continue in my cushy job. HahaMy point is that they continue to support a coalition where they provide the seats and then get shafted by their city friends.Why?

Falkirk, things sound really terrible...I'm surprised that you continue, if they're really that bad.If you think life's easier for 'city spivs', the answer is to become one.Obviously, those who farm have the choice of doing so, or doing something else, but they choose to farm.Must be some reason for that...

I have 100% regard for exactly those things you speak of. The actual experience is that farming and resource development can coexist, with the inevitable areas of friction resolved as cash compensation to the landholder. As resource companies are really only interested in avoiding delays and legal entanglements they are quite happy to make compensation payments in excess of actual loss of earnings to the landholder. This is a cash positive outcome, a buffer against bad seasons etc, which the green fraternity are very happy to downplay. The scare stories of poisoned water etc are just that.

This is like the "truisms" that happened initially with computers use.There was a belief for a very long time: If it came out of a computer it had to be right or "true" Utter non sense- Rubbish in - Rubbish OUT is the Correct answer Now if we see so called "scientists " or "fringe studies" on a program there will be those who feel or believe that what is said is utterly correct because this is what they want to believe.Nothing can be done about that !!Medical science has clearly shown that the STATIN group of drugs have certainly cut deaths but like all studies the profession does not categorically say that taking the drugs will STOP you from dying.They say is significantly lower the RISKS of heart disease & heart attacks as long as there is a healthy lifestyle & exercise.Taken correctly the STATINS do work!!

Peter Reith is a spokesman for the Paradigm-In-Place (PIP). Under the PIP what he says makes perfect sense. Under any objective construction of the reality we are actually in, it represents almost perfect nonsense. In the last 200 years, we have converted much of the resource base and the functionality of the natural environment to political and economic purposes. For the sake of a brief (this flagrancy cannot last) self-indulgence of some hundreds of millions of people we have wasted the potential of much of our inheritance of natural advantage and of tens of billions of human lives.We sign on to living in such a way because we accept the core dictates of the PIP. We think the ways we live, and the politics and economics and the laws that script and police such ways, are as good as it could get.We selfish few have been prepared to spend the stock that is the entitlements of others quite profligately for our ways.If that's all we can imagine, we have no future.If we can get off our minds' eyes' arses, we could easily imagine a much better way to live.Peter Reith won't help. Your children and grandchildren need you to believe in something else entirely.Time to give the PIP the flick. Think about it.

Bravo Bruce.This contribution has a real whiff of wisdom and truly original thought. Both qualities signally missing from our political "leaders" (Think Campbell Newman, the leading clown).Those who accuse the ABC of "left-wing" bias should take note of two RW stalwarts such as Reith and Vanstone who are given a regular platform to voice their short-sighted, greedy, selfish, fearful, nostrums.

Absolutely Bruce. I think it is fear of the unknown that stops us imagining a different and better future......most are more comfortable with what they know, even if they are unhappy and not satisfied within our current consumerist and "greed is good" culture......many of our emotional and physical health issues are actually associated with this culture. It is ironic that there is more to fear from continuing as we are doing, than there is in changing our way of life to one which is more in harmony with the world in which we live and with each other, and which is not so destructive. Those who see must lead......keep leading and talking out against the PIP and its spokespeople.

Well said Bruce, There are other ways of approaching life other than big bucks. Part of the problem in the energy sector is they see non renewables as their own private stock inventory to be sold off to the paying masses for shareholder profit. Killing off competition from renewable tech at every turn as they don't own shares in them yet, or own the patents of how they work. Bit like the Oil companies buying the copyright to the electric car in the 1970's and hiding the technology from the world for decades to preserve monetary profits.It is slowly changing, and the dinosaurs in the sector will become more obsolete. And big money will become less important when it becomes clearer there will be no planet to live on. However, this change I fear may come too late if we continue to call people like Reith leaders and thinkers worthy of positions of decision making.

Really ? What "secret" about electric cars was the oil industry hiding ? They have been used for 120 years, and the truth is always the same, they are pretty useless.

So what is this new way of living Bruce? Where can I find out about it? Surely you are out there advocating about it, maybe you have a website?Or are you (as most are) an armchair general content to consume the goods and energy that oil and gas provide but not to actually provide a real alternative. Not some utopian rubbish but a real sustainable plan that allows us to change the PIP.If not then your criticism of Reith is hypocritical.

There is plenty that is happening and much being written; try Charles Eisenstein's website, but there are countless others discussing all sorts of necessary changes from small through to major. Change will not go according to some vast "plan" that has been established but will be incremental (unless forced upon us) as it has been in the past.

It is the nature of PIPs and their adherents to claim 'possession' of the default alternative they prefer as of right.Thus fracking, for example, can be justified because of its rightfulness under the catechism of the political-economic theologies of the PIP and with next to no scientific consideration while anti-fracking requires almost impossible scientific consideration. We know how to go to war but we don't know how to go to peace.The evidence against the PIP is called History. It is impossible to think (except for staunch PIP adherents perhaps) that much, or even much of any, of History actually represents the best that man might be. The evidence against the latest versions of the PIP is called recent history and current affairs. Unless you believe that the political-economic future (in spite of all of the evidence of history and of modern science) is going to somehow be remarkable (and equitable), you have to be thinking on what we might do that may be.Put simply, I think selfishness as the core ideal of a system of civilisation is foolishness itself - hence history, hence the PIP now, thereby politics, economics, and much religion.I aim to think on socio-abilities - the ways to well societies. Selfishness and the politics, economics, and ways of living selfishly are quite outside the potential paradigms that thinking suggests.Imagine what we might achieve as a functional global society compared with what we have ever managed as a dysfunctional set of little and large political-economic entities (by competition and selfishness on a grand and personal scale) - that is, ever, historically. Simplistic PIP people are happy to introduce any number of cane toads-pests into our global reality for political-economic reasons. OK, I suppose, if you want to be a cane toad. Let's do better than that.

Pete, a couple of things:1."The most immediate issue is that in the early years from 2014, the Queensland LNG export plants may not be able to acquire sufficient natural gas from their new gas fields and, in that case, they will source gas from sources otherwise slated for domestic use, thereby pushing up the price.In anticipation, prices are already rising. There is little reliable information on what the exact impact might be but at worst there could be big price increases for residential users, a shortage of gas for businesses, and even business closures and job losses."[aka] - So big business decides to build for the future but wants payback now, so dumb and dumber (us) pay for it. Sounds similar to Mac Bank building a road tunnel and manipulating councils to close roads thereby forcing people onto their "user-pays" infrastructure. Gotta love big business Pete!2."Another favourite claim surrounds the Condamine River in Queensland. The first report from the department "confirmed that bubbling gas observed in the Condamine River poses no risk to the environment or to human or animal health"."[aka] but Pete do you concede the bubbling started after the exploration for gas! How may chemicals or drugs that (when introduced) were guaranteed not to cause harm but.... What's the risk Pete? Nothing to you!3."There is virtually no country in the world that bans fracking because there is no reason to do so." [aka] - so there are some Pete? what a stupid use of words in such an argument.

>> "[aka] - so there are some Pete? what a stupid use of words in such an argument"And here's just a few - - - Banned Hydraulic FracturingSwitzerlandSpainAustriaSouth AfricaFranceBulgariaIrelandAotearoa (New Zealand)Nova ScotiaQu?becMora County New Mexico enacted a ban, as well as a resolution to change the state constitution to put community rights above corporations.The State of VermontThe list is to long, to list all that haveBanned Hydraulic Fracturing.

All the countries you mention have either no reservevs to frack, and/or are earthquake prone (hows that for fracking!), and/or are serious coal miners, and/or are nuclear users and/or as serious as the "nuclear free" suburbs we have (which mandate houses have nuclear radioators in them in the form of fire detectors).Nice list though - until facts intervene.

All the countries listed are either environmentally sensitive, have an important agricultural base, are concerned about the quality of their aquifers... Nice list indeed, on the basis of facts.

not all farmers are "greenie"s....but yes, anyone with any environmental conscience would oppose CSG even if it meant less jobs and profits.Lets face it, if those CSG jobs didnt exist, there would be as much work in the resulting alternative industries ...but possibly not as much in the end, the issue is $, not jobs.Fossil fuels are currently essential but we should be making efforts to find alternatives as they become more affordable. Thats all anyone is asking for. Surely a 10-20 year transition is enough? Train up everyone currently working in coal to operate solar/wave/hydro/nuclear/wind plants instead so that nobody is out of work.Lets dispose of those pointless politcal labels as not everyone fits into your judgmental catagorisation.

Fracking will happen weather we like it or not. The real fight is to make sure existing and potential water resources are not put at risk, and that requires good science and, just as importantly, good regulatory oversight. Given the current fad of smaller government being positive for economic growth (the evidence across the world economies actually demonstrate this to be crap, just look at America vs Norway), Australia's natural resource protection is sliding backwords. This does not bode well for appriate protection against groundwater contamination, nor does it bode well for our economic future generally.

It is true that my spelling is not my strong point (much to the disgust of my school teacher mother). However, I think that is partially down to the English Language being somewhat illogical.For example, consider the irony of the word phonetic.

While your sentiments are no doubt acurate, your expectations of the average Australian are way off. The average Aussie understands only handouts and paid for comment media rantings. From a big picture perspective, perhaps it is better if we don't have an economic future.

The unused desalination plant in Giipsland stands as a stark reminder of the dangerous and expensive stupidity of the Greens. Greens means lost jobs. We should ignore their baseless scaremongering.

I suspect Mack1 doesn't believe in La Nina or El Nino.Those things are just more "green baseless scaremongering" to Mack1.

The desalination plant will sieze up from disuse long before it is needed. And Melbourne people will be paying for it long before it is needed. And it will be powered by coal burning power plants when it is used.You should get out more- climb into your car one weekend and have a look at the Thompson River dam. Quite a few years supply for Melbourne in that.

Gnome I do wonder if you EVER bother checking your "facts", All the three eastern state desalination plants at Wonthaggi (Vic) Kurnell (NSW) and Tugun (Qld) have been mothballed ..They only require a certain amount of maintainence to preserve the reverse osmosis membranes.

MACK1, what did the Greens have to do with the Gippsland desalination plant? My understanding was that the plant was pushed through by a Labor state government in response to a 12 year drought that saw the catchment levels drop to such a level that, had the drought not broken, Victoria would have been one dry summer away from having to ship water in from elsewhere.

Same in the WA. we had a massive water shortage so 2 plants have been built since. I'm happy that we have this essential backup water supply regardless of the additional cost incurred..I would imagine that the desal plants would have a minimum output required to cover costs and that a certain percentage of water being sold is from the desal plant - it wont be disused at all.

MACK1,Part of the problem faced by Australia is the short sightedness of its people. Big profits now, big losses later. Examples include:- The droughts over, there won't be another.- I am voting for the government that gives me the most handouts now, irrespective of their policy for long term economic investment.- This minning boom will never end, China's demand is too big.It's not the Greens or any other party that's the real problem. Its us, the short-sighted, self-centred voter. Given the natural resources of this country, combined with its education system, we should be in a far better position than we are now. I am amazed to still here from people that the economy will improve. In order for that to happen, we needed to have invested in new industry and technology over the past two decades. Instead, we invested in flat screen televisions and utes. That was our choice, now it is our problem (that includes you).

Peter Reith is reliably predictable.One can be assured that Reith would not have said the Victorian and NSW need to go full steam ahead with significant renewable energy projects.A region like Mildura could be very well placed for a significant concentrating Solar project but of course the Coalition wants to continue its support the fossil fuel rather than the renewable energy future.Reith was a wise choice for the Victorian Government. The outcome could be relied upon.

Thank you for your article Peter. I disagree however. If one takes a step back and considers how increasingly desperate we are getting to unlock dwindling resources, it does not paint a pretty picture for the next step we take after fracking has exhausted all it can. Sure, the film 'Gasland' is biased, but they raise interesting questions that I for one have not yet seen the answers for. What exactly is being pumped into the ground to help with fracking? How poisonous is it? In about 50-100 years these methods will be taught as chapter 19 of the "how we went horrifically wrong" textbook. I'm no fan of the labor party, but the dismantling of clean energy funding will - in time - prove to have set Australia back about 30 years.

Australian reserves alone are around 600 tcf. 1tcf makes around 20million tonnes of LNG.Reserves have not even begun to be exploited.Simply verifiable facts.

How exactly are gas reserves increasing massively? Spontaneous generation of massive gas reserves?Sounds a bit dodgey to me.Discoveries continue, true, but like all mineral resources natural gas has a finite supply.It's just a small blue-green planet we live on. Not an imaginary bottomless pit.

The gas was originally a nuisance in the oil producing game. Everywhere which has produced oil is now returning to these reservoirs to look at the gas potentials. Previously "gas" fields were plugged and abandoned, but are now being seen as a resource that can be developed due to new technologies such as horizontal drilling.

The fracking fluids are 95% water with natural guar gum (as a plasticiser), ceramic beads (clay), small amounts of detergent (like washing up liquid) and some acids (about vinegar strength).If this is the concern, then we have very few things to worry about in the world.Facts are easily verifyable. Gasland was and is a joke - similar to the anti Monsanto "documentary" which stated GM Canola was going to rape and pillage the world. Seems pretty much the same to me.

I'm with you on the GM canola, but the nature of the fracking fluid isn't the point.The point is the increased exposure of groundwater to large volumes of gas and the petroleum residues in the coal seams. Groundwater matters. Ultimately it becomes streams, rivers, run-off into the ocean and, increasingly, drinking water.

The toluene and benzene are fractions of petrochemicals contained in the coal. They can emerge with the water created by the dewatering process (which reduces the pressure on the coal seam and allows the gas to move).It is therefore important to manage and purify the produced water. No-one is saying any different.

So the toluene and benzene are by products of the process? Thanks for letting me know because it has taken a huge load off my mind. And now we just have to rely on mining companies to do the right thing to manage and purify the contaminated water.The mining industry has such an awesome reputation for doing the right thing by the environment that I am now pro-fracking.Frack off

Monash and Bolte may well have been great Victorians, however, they had no idea that fracking can eventually let gas seep into the water systems of towns. In the United States people have had to leave their homes because water coming out of the taps can be set alight and wells in their back yards also light up. Recently a program on TV showed these faults in the USA as well as farmers in Queensland who are now having the same problems.This is not a scare campaign by anybody. When you see the results of fracking with your own eyes on TV, actually see a man light up the water inside his house, you cannot see any good in this process. Are we so poor in resources that we have to use fracking to get gas? I know for a fact that in the early 1920's there was huge amounts of gas found just outside Roma in Queensland (at a place called Pickanginnie) and those wells were capped because then they did not know how to deal with the gas. My father in law had a farm at Pickanginnie and had a few of those capped wells on his property, so I know gas has been found in that area without fracking.So Mr. Reith, do your homework once again and I agree with the Greens (and I don't vote Green), forget about fracking because the results of it are ruining whole states in America and we don't want that here.

Francie, are you aware the first public street lighting in Australia was in Roma - I think in the late 1800's. They discovered a natural gas seep in a creek, capped it and used it to power the street lights.I think it went for about 2 yrs before the source dried up. If they knew about fracking, they would have got a better ROI.The point is, the water was OK then and not much has changed

I love how conservatives grab at some minor possibility that an industry is not causing damage (swamp gas) and so therefore there is no problem with that industry. Really? Are we going to play this game with everything now. It worked in discreditting Labor and climate change, why not CSG right?This death by a thousand cuts that the left has been suffering under by conservatives since the early 90s is really getting tiresome. This is of course unless we're talking about an issue that conservatives don't like. Take gay marriage for example. Conservatives believe it will destroy the world but suggest that maybe it won't because of... oh I don't know, let's say 'swamp gas'..... they just don't want to know. No consistency whatsoever.I mean swamp gas? Really?? Wouldn't the locals experiencing the flaming water scenario, who have lived on that land for 5 generations perhaps know the difference? And what's the angle being played here by the left? What do we have to gain by making up an issue to prevent cheap gas? I'm a lefty, I want cheap gas too, but not at the cost of an environmental disaster.

Describing yourself as a lefty and simply seeing life as either right or left does rather date you Cobbler.Really, these days, you should be able to analyse issues on their merits rather than insisting on some kind of left, right filter.One should be perfectly able to hold a range of views across the spectrum without being wrapped up as left or right.Maybe if you stopped seeing issues that you disagree with as simply representing the conservative point of view you might be able to move on.

Spruiking for rent seekers has been allowed to run for far too long and will have adverse repercussions for moral standards and quality of life.

Ah yes Mr Reith says we can all rest easy because he's on the case, "investigating" Coal seam gas fracking, and he says everything is hunky dory. Apparently fugitive emissions do not exist , and we should also trust a report conducted by the Qld Govt that says there is nothing wrong with methane gas bubbling up in a river where it has never appeared before..Yeh right!!I''d prefer to trust the opinion of researchers who have a clue Mr Reith, your biased report will no doubt be missing vital evidence that would normally damn the CSG fracking industry forever..And here is an example of a real study done by real researchers like those at Southern Cross Uni, "Fugitive Emissions from Coal Seam Gas" By Dr Isaac Santos and Dr Damien Maher, Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry Research SCU

A study conducted in the United States in 2011 documented ?systematic evidence for methane contamination of drinking water associated with shale-gas extraction?. In the United Kingdom in 2011 the British Geological Survey confirmed seismic events were a direct result of drilling and fracking activities by Cuadrilla Resources.Like most neo-cons, Reith is a notorious cherry-picker and needs to address the research around fracking.As a predictable GreenBash, Reith is also too lazy to examine the research around renewable energy sources such as Concentrating Solar Thermal and wind turbines.When you see an economic powerhouse like Germany who's lowest latitude ios higher than Hobart getting 25% of its power from Solar PV, Australia looks a very dumb country indeed.Reith needs to declare his share portfolio before commenting on commodities and my prediction is that he has a tidy bundle in the mining sector. Not declaring them comes with that sense of entitlement of most LNP politicians.

When you see an economic powerhouse like Germany building new coal-fired power statiions because they have realised they can't depend on the hope of solar power it makes you wonder why we need to waste so much of our national substance on the hope of renewables.

Ask yourself this question:Is it better to use the most available renewables, or not?To me, we should be using sun/ wind first and THEN topping ip with fossil fuels, but we do it the other way, the stupid way, around.Why?Because we would rather die in a ditch defending the taxpayer-funded market economy than actually have the guts to do something rational.

If you want solar power, build your own. Nothing stopping you.And if you want electricity in the evening, buy your own batteries.

MZ, I suggest you look up the difference between shale gas and CSG. Until you understand this, you are making a pigs ear of the debate.Germany gets about 2% of its actual power used from PV. Installed capacity is not the same as generated capacity. There was a 2 week period last winter where ALL the wind and ALL the PV in Germany generated not one watt. This is why the need to build coal plants - as a back up due to the phase out of nuclear power (which produced no GHGs). Green decision making in action.

"There was a 2 week period last winter where ALL the wind and ALL the PV in Germany generated not one watt."Strange, I saw this before and went searching for the relevant reports, but couldn't find confirmation of this claim. I don't suppose you could back your claim up could you?

Was it you or Mr Z who claimed to be unable to find the reference to 50 million climate refugees by 2010? You need to update your internet skills, because even my pedal powered on-again-off-again mobile internet connection works better than that.

Can't remember asking that. I have no trouble imagining that a worst-case scenario painted some 20-30 years ago might have said this. Exactly how many economic refugees were created by the recent drought in Africa again? Glad to hear you have pedal powered internet connection. Can you let me know where you got your system? However, you still haven't given me the reference, despite claiming it's easy to find.Oh, denialist website (eg. wattsupwiththat) isn't a valid reference, in case that's where you saw it. Primary sources please.

Where are these 50 million ?Afghanistan ? Eritrea ? Sri Lanka ?They are fleeing imminent death, according to the correctness-weevils. From ethnic and political persecution, supposedly.Funny, none of them ever seem to mention climate change.

?It is too early yet to describe evolving events in Germany as a crisis but as politicians, industry leaders, and ordinary households start to digest the importance of a gathering of obscure European bureaucrats last month the alarm bells will ring loudly.European Energy Commissioner, Gunther Oettinger, warned that subsidies for green power would have to end or Germany could be hit with punitive fines potentially amounting to billions of Euros.A formal inquiry by the European Commission has been launched into Germany?s system of paying massive subsidies to companies producing electricity from wind and solar power after complaints were lodged by several neighbouring countries.Last year, according to the German news magazine, Spiegel, wind farm and solar array owners were paid €18 ($A 24.9) billion in direct subsidies so their electricity could compete with that produced by coal and nuclear power stations.According to Spiegel the subsidies developed as a key part of the country?s Renewable Energies Act. If that sounds like something that has developed in Australia over the past 10 years that is because it is.Under the German system producers of wind and solar power have been offered a guaranteed, fixed price, for the electricity they produce over a period of seven years.?The entire subsidy system is supposed to come to an end when green energy becomes competitive,? Spiegel said. ?That, at least, is the theory?.However, what is slowly dawning on the German government is that green power dreams are becoming unaffordable. The solar and wind systems are simply not delivering at the price (or volumes) promised, and the squeeze on coal has made it extremely competitive ? which means the subsidies must rise as coal becomes cheaper.To put a big number of what the green power drive is going to cost Germany over the next 10 years start thinking €100 billion as a starting figure with households discovering that 19% of their electricity bill comprises the green-power subsidy, and growing.?

I specifically asked Mark O to back up his claim that no electricity was generated from wind ("not one watt") over a 2 week period last winter).In lieu of this, we see a longwinded quote about renewable energy subsidies, which does not even mention intermittency, from an unnamed (and hence, at this point, unverifiable) source.Presumably this quote to try to distract the reader from the fact that Mark O cannot substantiate his original claim, which I'm all but convinced is BS. Such a reply has strengthened my conviction.

For the sake of prosperity in this nation during tough economic times, Victoria needs to bite the bullet and start using the available resources we have. It's makes economic sense, it makes security sense and the greens are going to have to start behaving more rationally in this debate about energy needs and environmental concerns. Partisan politics have no place at the table when it comes to national energy security, however, green politics and minority concerns seems to be all the rage these days. Fracking, bring it on!

craig2 : It's not only the greens who are anti-fracking, it's the farming lobby, the NFF, and the National Party folk. Who would have guessed? They believe in free-market ideology...until it affects them personally. Agrarian socialistsIt's fair to point out that that the same farming lobby group is part of the current, and past, Coalition governments.Reith would not have had the courage, or permission, to vociferate so, when he was a minister.

"Victoria needs to bite the bullet and start using the available resources we have"You mean like solar, wind, wave, geothermal?

For the sake of our prosperity we must be very careful with anything that may damage our freshwater.I suggest we do all the science now, so that in the future we may not need the energy from all the gas to provide fresh water.For the sake of prosperity we should invest as much as possible in renewable energy.The cost of energy to get that first fleet to Australia in 1788 was nothing. You could do the same journey today using the same fuel and the cost would still be nothing.More importantly the cost to the environment by using that fuel was minimal in 1788, and would still be minimal today.For the sake of prosperity lets use as much fuel we can from sources that don't damage the things we need to survive.

Good luck Peter, given the quality and depth of your analysis, I think you need it.But then, I must be a Green Activist. After all, I believe we should be investing into better sources of energy than you're proposing here.

Putting this joker as chairman of the committee shows that the purpose of the committee was to produce justification for beginning the wholesale fracking, not determine if it is advisable.His comments suggesting that either you agree with him, or you are a greeny, or have an agenda, as usual for a conservative he is attacking the people opposed rather than the opposing arguments.This article has made it clear that the report wont be worth the paper that it is soon to be printed on, Peter should have fought the urge cling to glory days when people listened to him rather than come out with this one sided rubbish and further cement his lack of credibility.

I am an unapologetic proponent of unconventional gas in Australia, both from coal seams and shale formations. In addition, I agree that the public discourse on hydraulic fracturing has been poisoned by an avalanche of misinformation, ignorance and hysteria. Here's an actual fact: of the 5000 wells in Queensland only 8% have been completed using hydraulic fracturing.However, the argument that increased gas production in the Eastern market (and, as is being lobbied, relaxed regulation) will put downward pressure on domestic gas prices is disingenuous and, frankly, irritating. Unless producers are required to set aside a fraction of their gas for domestic use, increased production will just lead to an increase in more profitable exports. The idiom, 'a drop in the ocean', is quite apt here.We want honest, rational debate based in science and economics, Peter. Don't stoop to the other side's level.

The spin from Peter Reith shilling for the CSG industry is astounding. His claims that there is no cause for concern are as bizarre as Nick Minchin trying to convince us, on behalf of the tobacco lobby, that smoking does not cause cancer (he actually did this)."There is virtually no country in the world that bans fracking"This is an absolute lie and Reith knows it. France banned fracking in 2011."green fracking"What a load of tosh.Reith also ignores the fact that the US Geological Survey has found a direct causal link between fracking and earthquakes.These are not "scare campaigns". A bigger threat is the attempt by the mining lobby to greenwash coal seam gas.

There's bits and pieces here and there, but almost no-one who would get a benefit from fraccing bans it. Massachusets is the only exception, and they are under serious pressure to wisen up because their residents look over the border and see what could be.

He also forgot to mention that there are states/provinces/etc of some countries that ban fracking. So while saying "virtually no country in the world that bans fracking" is technically correct, it is misleading.

In Australia our most important resource is WATER.Any politician who sacrifices our water for a quick buck is a TRAITOR to this country and to our children.

Didn't we already sell off licenses to get at the water in the great artesian basin? They'd sell the air if they could find a buyer

No- the water licences were given away, and there needs to be a judicial enquiry into it. When it comes to water, them what has, gets, and the old gerrymanders still rule.

It is a sad fact that greed overtakes caution in regard to environmental matters. Our water tables are our life. It is so patently obviously a necessity to avoid any risk. Shame on you Peter Reith.

This article is hilarious!We already had a long article on the ABC recently that explained that all gas from fracking is to be exported. As soon as the gas terminals are finished, the gas price will increase (about fourfold, if I recall correctly) to match the Asian market price.Mr Reith is upset that environmentalists are protecting our farmland against exploitative gas extractors, but I'm upset that he is blindly supporting industrialisation of farmland using obviously false supporting claims (i.e. that gas prices will fall and that that justifies whatever is upsetting farmers).Fracking itself can be made safe (or at least mostly safe). Barging on to farm land and setting up drilling rigs is just appalling though. The rights to the gas should belong to the land owners. Then and only then would this issue be settled fairly.

This sounds like the Slippery Pete of old. Peter - can you guarantee us this gas production will fuel domestic consumption, or is it bound to export? If primarily to the export market, how many mobile phones will you be supplied as part of the deal? Of course, you would seek a comment ONLY fmo an economist; there are no hydrogeologists left in this country, or is it another case of science denial by you?Qld is best left aside, as the State government does not license or regulate the take of groundwater, and regards surface/ground water connectivity as a complete mystery. Why not ask the West Australians, as they have better and more rigorous processes over groundwater than the eastern States? Wouldn't that require a busniess trip for you at tax-paeyers expense?

Sounds to me like Peter Reith is sniffing around for a high paying job in the coal seam industry with this suck up piece.It's not just Greens that are concerned about the effects of fracturing the earth so multinationals can profit. This also sounds like a rushed, bad idea to Farmers and everyday Australians.We have abundant renewable energy in the sun, wind and waves and are still using coal with no shortage of that (yet). Why invade private property only to risk groundwater and soil quality when we really don't need to?It doesn't appear to employ many people, CSG looks pretty set and forget to me.

"In my opinion, in order to secure existing jobs and to provide the prospect of more jobs, both Victoria and New South Wales cannot afford to delay."Where are the jobs in the fracking industry? Could any of Australia's current unemployed get a job in the industry? The answer is no because there are relatively few jobs in fracking, one of the reasons it appeals to AGL and others who want to exploit fracking.Once a well is laid and the drilling team moves on to the next drilling site collecting the gas and amalgamating it with gas collected from nearby wells is a process that is totally labour-free. So where are the jobs Peter? The answer is 'in your fertile imagination', just like the 'children overboard' scare campaign.

You (and Jusme, above) should get out more. I passed through Roma on the Monday of the Labour Day weekend and saw at least 200 white utes waiting for their hirers to come back to work, at Roma airport, and that's just a small part of the industry. The whole of central Queensland is buzzing with activity and prosperity unimaginable only a few years ago.Of course our masters in the pastoral industry don't like it, even when they make hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in compensation payments, because these serfs don't know their place.

Don't worry gnome, I have been out in fracking country, driving from Brisbane to Wandoan and back recently. I too saw the rented white utes parked outside motels in Chinchilla and Dalby.What those utes tell me is there are no locals employed on the fracking rigs, just fly-in-fly-out crews that bring a small amount of economic activity in their wake, renting utes from national car-hire companies and staying in local motels for the short time it takes them to set up a well and move on to the next one.I stayed in Wandoan, right in the heart of fracking country, overnight and there wasn't a rented white ute in sight. Nobody in Wandoan, from the hardware store operator to the local sandwich bar proprietor, was benefitting from the fracking industry. I didn't see any new-age 'prosperity' while I was there.Perhaps, instead of getting out more gnome, you should get out of your car more and make enquiries about the width and depth of the 'prosperity' you claim to have witnessed. 200 rented utes parked at an airport in Roma suggests 200 Roma residents were being displaced by 200 workers from Brisbane or Sydney or further afield.Your serf-versus-master metaphor betrays your political leanings. Perhaps you should get out more gnome. You would discover that Australia has never had serf and master classes.

Then the shearers' strikes of the 1890s never happened, and the Labour Party shouldn't have been founded?Wandoan?? Then all those new dongas in and just outside Wandoan don't exist. The people living there don't need anything from the town?Do you have any idea what Wandoan was like three years ago? Or Condamine, or Miles? Why do you think graziers are complaining about the CSG activities giving their workers ideas above their stations when it comes to wages? Do you think Roma could provide a workforce the size of that needed for the CSG industry?Perhaps you should have one of the servants explain to you what people who work for a living aspire to.

Dongas, very useful as they can be loaded on to trucks and move to the next place where accommodation is required, when the accommodation is no longer required at the last place.

Julie, Mr Reith is patiently trying to explain that as the main manufacturing state, Victoria has a lot to lose as gas prices go up and makes the energy costs of industry uncompetitive. Low gas prices are essential to maintaining these businesses/jobs.People in Victoria and NSW need to examine the downside of what the minority want their governments to do. Without cheap energy there will be a huge downside.

But there won't be cheap energy in Victoria if large-scale fracking takes place there Mark. The objective of Reith's 'report' is to increase local gas production from its present levels so that more of it can be exported, and local prices can be increased to equal overseas gas prices, as has been pointed out here on the Drum, and in other places recently.This is a lose-lose scenario. But Reith would like it to happen because it would make Victoria more 'competitive'. No doubt Reith would, quite by chance, become a director of one of the CSG producers. He would be entitled to his pound of flesh if he convinced the Victorian government to accept the findings of his 'report', wouldn't he?

JD. There more gas there is, the cheaper it must get once the export contracts are filled. The domestic market will become a premium volume market in much the same way electricity is routed arounf the country now. Abundant gas = a competitive marketThe less gas there is is basically guaranteeing the export contracts will struggle to be filled and the domestic market bypassed.A guaranteed losing situation.

Mark, what you say is theoretically correct, but the point you seem to be missing is the producers are trying to rig the market so that all gas sold in Australia will be sold at the higher export price, not the current low domestic price.I suggest you read some of the other posts here which make that point.

A lot of natural gas is wasted in the extraction of oil because it's too hard (read expensive) to capture. Fracking is a cheap alternative that can be employed when the oil exraction process has reached its limit in existing deposits. Let's first have the petroleum companies work on ending waste before allowing them to pump undisclosed formulations into our ground water. Let's keep in mind that petroleum reserves are constantly being revised as the extraction technologies improve. We're not running out of oil - or gas - so quickly that we have to endanger (further) the environment, and our fresh water supplies in particular.There's also the frozen gas deposits on deep sea beds that the US and Japan are currently working to extract.I think Mr. Reith is a little too cozy with the oil barons.

As with all Peter Reiths articles he again is undoubtably pushing someone's agenda here, the question is whose this time, Pete?The science is not finalised on this debate, on that he is right. The problem with Reith arguing that line is a double edged sword. Although it hasn't been proven 100% that fracking causes the environmental impacts that some studies do show that it MAY contribute to, the science does show there is enough concern to proceed cautiously just in case we are doing damage we have no idea about.Like all Libs with a lust for the big dollar, Rieth once again shows his true colours with his headlong rush to sell out the farming constituants that so loyally stand by the Coalition. Who cares if we risk laying waste to thousands of acres of farmland as long as there is a profit to be made? Sooner or later the farming communities will wake up to the fact that the Coalition care very little about them between election campaigns.Reith again pulls out his time honoured tactic of clouding the argument, this time by his references to "swamp gas" and the Evil Greens yet again. Nothing if not predictable is our Pete.

Threatens who's prosperity - yours?It's not really about a shortage of gas "crisis" but more about creating an export market that will inevitably drive up local prices. Facilities are being built in Gladstone specifically for that purposeOnce our local market is linked to the world market we can expect prices to rise from around $3 or $4 per gigajoule to the export parity price of $9 per gigajoule.There is certainly prosepity at stake here, but not for the consumer.

Massive reserves are surfacing (pardon the pun) all over the world. This must surely lead to lower world prices, it seems to me.

OK peter let me see you drink a full large glass of water for one of the wells that you can set fire to and then you tell me its OK and safe to drink .and your family as well.i think that will never happen.......

I sought advice from senior officials at GeoScience Australia. They told me that concentrations of chemicals in ground water or connections to aquifers were 'unlikely'.That was probably an understatement. Although fracking in Victoria has been limited, there is no known case of problems.That is the quote above that proves your stupidity.Nice to see that the officials say unlikely and you decide that is an understatement. Now have to go a few more children overboard as I must be a green illegal boat person ie not white, christian male from 1950. Howard got voted out because of your sort of logic Peter and Aboot will be next.

Was a member burke and if you read what I wrote I never said he still was I just said that Aboot with his disregard for peoples thinking is heading down the same path as the Work Choices regime, of which the author of this article was part.Just so you know I understand that the Abbott name is spelt differently however I prefer to call him a boot. That might save some of your nit picking time.

It may be worth taking a look at "Snake Oil: How Frackings false promise of plenty imperils our future" by Richard Heinberg 2012, or "Drill Baby Drill" J. David Hughs 2005. A wealth of references there regarding the issues with fracking, including effects on marketsm, the environment and the sudden appalling production drop-off rates from fracking wells and subsequent need to drill ever more sites at an exponential rate to maintain production levels. Whatever the question, fracking is not the answer.

"There is virtually no country in the world that bans fracking because there is no reason to do so."That does not mean its safe and environmentally sound.

I don't proclaim to be an expert on fracking. What I do hear though, is those in favour stating only that it is good for jobs and gas prices (usually couched as a threat to both if you don't come onboard). It is not up to opponents to prove it is not safe for us and our environment, it is up to those who wish to engage in the activity to prove, beyond all reasonable doubt, that it is safe to do so. This article fails that most basic test. 'Unlikely' is not good enough.

Peter Reith also hasn't revealed that the tracking companies are significant contributors to the Liberal Party coffers. He has also avoided telling us whether he has a conflict of interest on this issue. It would also be interesting to know whether he has ever lobbied for any oil and gas companies, or has investments in them either directly or indirectly.

Funny how Mr Paul Howes has actually come on board with Mr Reith. He must have finally looked at the facts.

So opposition to fracking on productive farmland that threatens the value of underground water resources is a scare campaign, but opposition to wind generators on productive farmland is justifiable to protect a few people from their paranoias. Is this hypocrisy, plain dumb, an expression of the 'dig-it-up-and-ship-it-out' philosophy of the conservatives, or just the instructions of the fossil fuel industry?By the way, how many jobs would be created in Victoria if we manufactured all the wind generators and solar panels that have been installed in recent years, and are likely to be installed in the future once the Abbott government gets thrown out? And, heaven forbid, what if we exported some of this renewable energy technology?

Australia has plenty of conventinal natural flowing gas. If we don't frac now the resource is not going anywhere; it will stay in the ground. That we are exporting LNG is why gas prices are going up (plus governments privatising all our utilities).Wait until we exhaust conventional gas, which will give time for the science to come in, before we frac geological Formations in close proximity to water tables. What's the big hurry?

That's a very good question QC bet on the answer is that far from not understanding the science on global warming, our fossil fuel based companies understand it very well. They are very aware that they need to get all these developments signed and sealed before the general population wakes up and demands an end to fossil fuel use. This pressure is starting to occur already with informed investors (including some super funds) removing their funds from companies with interests in fossil fuels. The fossil fuel companies are rushing as they never have before and desperately need governments that will do all they can to facilitate their path......they have the WA, NSW, Qld and Federal governments on board. It's just an irrelevancy that governments are meant to govern for the benefit of all Australians, not just business!

Peter, tosh.A triumph of ideology over truth. I hope the Victorian Government realises what a mistake they made to have such an ideologue write a report on anything to do with public policy (which should be about the interssts of all, not just the rich and powerful). If not, they will suffer at the hands of the voters in the same way that other political ideologue, Jeff Kennett, did in 1999.

Peter, I attended a community forum on this topic some months ago in south west Sydney.The mouthpiece from AGL was a CHEMICAL ENGINEER, not a GEOLOGIST, who tried to tell us that there really was no problem.He produced a couple of core-drill samples, ( one of coal the other of Hawkesbury sandstone ) which he proceeded to dunk in a bucket of water to "show" that the water did NOT permeate the samples.In geological terms, Hawkesbury sandstone ( which is beneath the whole Sydney basin ) is a relatively coarse-grained sedimentary rock formation which in fact is quite porous. At this point I switched him off.A geologist mate tells me that there are a couple of pollutant blooms already wending their way through the Hawkesbury sandstone, and they are UNSTOPPABLE.How much more BS does AGL and other gas procucers expect us to believe.

So if the Hawkesbury sandstone is so permeable (it is, and porous and permeable aren't the same thing, but OK) why will the gas and associated pollutants not permeate the Hawkesbury SS now?The pollutant plumes are getting through the SS already, but what has that to do with other activities. Coal was once mined at Balmain, but that isn't the cause of any of the known pollutant plumes in that area. But there are pollutant plumes- lets ban fraccing.Do any of you anti-fraccing characters even know the difference between the water table and artesian or subartesian aquifers? Are those few who do know, capable of applying that knowledge to the subject under discussion? If you are, will you please do so? From reading the remarks here it looks like you are all basking in Green Party induced ignorance, and it isn't a pretty look.

Hi gnome,P1 - porous and permeable are as near as dammit the same thingP2 - why add to the current pollutant blooms with more of the same ?P3 - I'm no greenie, but I hate BS. You are obviously a fan of fraccing, so please provide your cast iron guarantee ( a copy of the one from AGL will suffice ) that neither the water table nor the artesian or subterranean aquifers will be adversely affected in any way shape or form, and that there will be no surface structures subsidence, anywhere.

In a democracy the government is supposed to be "accountable" to the people. If the government and proponents of fraccing insist that it is a "safe" process that poses "minimal', or at least "acceptable", risk to the environment - in particular our water resources - then they should have no problem answering the following questions and providing IRREFUTABLE FACTS to support their answers: Question 1. Fraccing has been undertaken in the US since the early 1980s. Where is the scientific data (not the personal opinions of fraccing proponents) that shows the environment impact of fraccing to be minimal or acceptable? Question 2. If fraccing is safe and has no adverse environmental impact then WHY was its oprations placed BEYOND THE REACH of the environmental regulators in the US? Question 3. Where is the objective scientific reasearch that shows that fraccing is safe to do onshore? Question 4. What type of chemicals are injected into the ground during fraccing and what are their characteristics? Question 5. What will the fraccing operators do with the contaminated water they extract from the ground during the fraccing process? If they are going to "discharge" that water on to land, then what treatment (if any) will that water be subjected to before it is discharged? If none, then what is the effect of discharging this contaminated water on the soil and the local wildlife? Question 6. If an earth quake or other unanticipated occurrence takes place (e.g. operational accident) and the chemicals used fracking escape into UNCONFINED water aquifers what will be the consequences for our drinking water supplies? Question 7. What would the government or the fraccing operators be able to do to "remedy" the pollution of our water resources? This answer will need to be very carefully considered in light of the answer to Question 4 above because the nature of the chemicals used in fraccing is very important to the remedial options available. Furthermore, we must bear in mind that once the chemicals have espaced into an unconfined acquifer it would be impossible to stop its travel to other unpolluted water resources such as rivers and lakes. Call me a cynical but I work in the water industry and I would bet my life that we - the public - would NEVER be given honest answers to the questions I have outlined above. As for the idea of an "accountable" government, such a concept is the product of our optimistic immagination :-)

According to Federal Government information, in Western Australia more than two-thirds of water use is from groundwater, including domestic supplies in Perth.This is a pretty desperate situation, since it's not the most pleasantly flavoured water and two-thirds is pretty heavy reliance. How far off this situation is the rest of Australia? How much does fracking contaminate ground water? Are gas supplies really that impoverished that we now need to crumble the rocks beneath us just to cook dinner or heat our bathwater?If so, there probably should be a better realisation among our politicians that we are already scraping the bottom of the barrel and alternatives need to be found.Risking the pollution of what may be our next major water resource seems pretty thoughtless. The water at my place already tastes unpleasant after the chlorine has evaporated. The chlorine, believe it or not, improves the taste! Would slushing it through fractured coal seams improve this situation? Doesn't sound likely.

Your main argument is that unless more gas is extracted the price of gas will rise."Gas prices are already rising and will have a negative impact on Victoria's manufacturing base."The reason gas prices are rising is due to the fact that our domestically sourced gas is now priced as a global commodity. now are set to lose on two fronts. 1. The increasing cost of energy will further cripple our already struggling manufacturers.2. Cracking open the ground wherein the gas has accumulated will result in fugitive gas migrating into ground water aquifers and dissipating to the surface via the newly porous ground. may soon not just be vegetation fuel waiting to ignite during a bush fire!PS. You appear to have a financial conflict of interest in penning this article.?

The only reason gas is going to world parity pricing is because we are now exporting it. This will both increase energy costs for the ordinary Australian consumer, and reduce our energy supplies over the long term.

Precisely. Reith and his ilk have sold us out to the foreign corporations and their shareholders in exchange for what?A key to the 'club' locker room.What happened to firewalling Australias vital energy reserves as a strategic asset?

So the victorian liberal party took it upon themselves to waste tax payers money on a report of which they already knew what the answer would be prior to it being written due to the corrupt individuals selected to write it. Surely this is just blatent theft from the tax payer.

I think it might have been the Victorian Government, which happens to be a Liberal government, doing what they were elected to do, ie govern.Pollies on both sides find plenty of ways to steal from the taxpayer, but this isn't one of them.

I've been to boozy barbeques where technically I've done both. There are sound reasons to consider the wisdom, nutritional viability, and health ramifications of such actions, but not to deny the possibility of actually setting about doing them if you're enthusiastic enough.

Let me get this straight ... an ex-Liberal Minister from a government that sent us off to war in Iraq which has killed well over 100,000 people and destabilised that region on the mistaken idea that the country had WMD is saying that people's concern about their water quality is mistaken.Might I suggest that for once the LNP actually wait for the investigations to be completed before they make yet another blunder?

And Howard's war only cost Australia $7B and killed 40 of our servicemen! You'd think they'd want to have a judicial inquiry about that sort of waste and loss of life. But they are probably too busy having inquiries about home insulation programs.Go figure how that makes sense!

Right on fellow brother of the greying hair and growing aches and pains.One would think such an inquiry would be demanded by the media and the public but what we hear are sounds of silence on this issue.Do you think people just don't care or are ashamed of these wars?

I don?t know enough about the science of fracking to make a comment. However the mining lease hold issue taken up by Allen Jones, is to me, much more subversive. This is something for which Mr Reith and his Liberal belief system should align. There is no possible reason for someone?s property rights, to be so violated, as to have a mining lease put over their property. Fracking is one thing, the ability of mining companies to come on to your land because you don?t own what?s underneath your land is criminal. Any right minded ?Liberal? that doesn't support stronger property rights and the end of "lease hold" mining rights, is in fact by definition, a communist. Half of New South Wales being Leasehold mining land is now the biggest threat to individual liberties and property rights that this country faces.

The only thing different is that a new commodity (CSG) is being exploited in new areas. The crown has owned mineral rights since before Federation. It leases them to whoever can extract them most effectively and pay the royalty. If the law was changed to give mineral rights to the landholder you would transfer the entire future mineral wealth of Australia to whoever happens to own land right now - Edie Obeid and Alan Jones included. The appropriate level of compensation is the current argument , and like with wind farms, some people stand to gain considerably more than the inconvenience justifies. A valid question is whether the compo and the royalties should be spread more evenly across the shires and districts where the work is being done.

The Crown should not own the minerals, dirt-call it whatever-under your feet. I am arguing that the minerals rights of landholders not be transferred, but forfeited by the Commonwealth. Its not government land, underfoot or above ground. It is an issue of private/individual property rights. Right now, its not even a question that government is trampling on our private property rights-they are. Just because its been that way since the birth of the commonwealth, does not make it correct.

Like most Australians, I think its correct. Why should our masters, the squattocracy also own the mineral wealth of the country?Is yours the serf mentality, or are you old money?

With all of the pre-election anti-class warfare rhetoric that emanated from the born-to-rule right wingers recently, I'm surprised to see gnome, a rabid right-winger, resorting to this socially divisive tactic in several of his posts on the fracking subject.Do as I say, not as I do. Right, gnome?

Rattus- the gnome is a libertarian, not a conservative.So far to the right as to be coming around from the other side, but not conservative- never conservative.

I meant to add.>> "There is virtually no country in the world that bans fracking because there is no reason to do so."Try putting some truth into what you say Peter - Because NOT all of us are gullible or as ill-informed as you are.There are 100's of situations where fracking has been banned.PLEASE ABC - Post this link.

So the ABC should aid activist causes now?Might as well, since it is what it is .. their ABC, loss of objectivity complete

Hello Rhet,Oh Rhet, lets just think about what you have posted. ABC have given Peter Reith and many vested iterest commentators from the IPA a voice. Do you really want fascism? Isn't it fascist propaganda when only one point of view is allowed, as it happens on MSM.And Rhet, No opinion comment is objective. When we are dealing with opinion pieces and comments, there is only the subjective. At lease the ABC make an effort at balance. Do some 'objective' research Rhet.

The problem is not the fraccing process - the main problem is the very dodgy cement jobs that are meant to isolate the water zones. A lot of the jobs are a farce - I know as I have to do them. There are no checks to ensure the zones are isolated.

The scare campaigns surrounding fracking have been allowed to run for far too long...well said says the author, who no doubt has no biase in this debate, being an ex minister in a Howard coalition government, writing a report for the Victorian Government on a industry where ex coalition, this time National Party Leaders, are involved. It is probably or more likely bleeding obvious the Victorian Coalition government will look at the report favourably. The LNP always say the green groups exaggerate and the risks are minimal, throw in the fear of price rises and it is then ok to go ahead. When it comes to water, the Victorian people had better think long and hard poison the water agriculture is ruined and we can't drink the gas. Ensure independent experts undertake studies and don't be conned by LNP fear tactics, we have heard it with refugees and now the Unions are being demonised again.

In the future, when we've completely destroyed the entire planet, Peter Reith and his ilk will still be posting here regularly, expounding on the virtues of cannibalism.

Great comment LairdI take pleasure in knowing I don't smell to fresh and I'm glad I've never heard anyone say I look delicious.

The answer I supply above needed more work, I'm reliant that you wont try a bit for a taste test and I'm sirius.

Peter Reith,Without a healthy water table, we have no prosperity. Think long term, damaged water table means adverse repercussions. It would appear that the right to frack will take precendence over common sense and caution, because the arguments Peter Reith puts forward are all about money, and nothing else. And we all know where the money will go..into the pockets of the CEOs.And as for scare campaigns, you do seem unaware of the hypocracy of that statement. We have endured three years of scare campaigns from Team Abbott, it has been relentless. Let us hope that those that oppose on the grounds that the science is not in on CSG extraction, will endure. Let us all support the 'Lock the Gate' people. For as long as it takes.

What a load of crap, to be expected by a minister with no practical experience, learning and research on modern chemisty and environmental studies, yet talking about an environmental issue that also stems to sustainability, economic and otherwise. And a Howard minister, and a banker too. Wonder what his main focus is?Sure aint health I'll bet.Investing in a technology or resource for economic strength is only truely sustainable if it can last more than a hundred years and is healthy, and im afraid there is nothing healthy or sustainable about fracking. It WILL run out, there is little way of determining exactly when, but considering it's a fossil fuel that will increasingly become more expensive and risky to utilize(increased risk drives up production costs, and therefor price)The problem with blokes like this, is they don't actually live anywhere near or around or even have much experience with the things they lobby for. Coz they're only paid for they're words, they don't really care about the issue.Talk about scare campaigns mate, using "job losses" and "increased cost" to try intimidate people to act out against their best intrests and the intrests of this country.How's this mate? Instead of injecting all this money into fallout projects that will require MILLIONS of dollars to clean up by FUTURE generations, you COULD start spending some of that money smart and invest in some local renewable energies? I know, people like you can't imagine how to possibly make money of something that YOU can't bottle or tank in order to sell to foreign companies and governements, but WE can, if given the OPPORTUNTY. Coz we're not restricted by the same false beliefs and irrelevant assumptions that you are, we know how to move energy without needing to "see" it with our eyes, we have faith in our knowledge and technology, because we have faith in each other, in the scientific community, because we're all open-minded and critical thinkers, we reflect and scrutinize each other(respectfully) to the point where error is minimal, that's why it's science. Welcome to science. You pretense, and idiotic focus on rounded numbers is not welcome here, or appreciated when we see it from afar.

So, the high price of exported LNG gas may drive up domestic gas prices?Well, Reith, that's a global, de-regulated, free market for you. Given your free-market worship, you should be positively beaming...after all, the gas exporters are making a mozza. Good, yes?...or no?A national socialist, perhaps. Competition is good until...In any event, you're arguing against your confreres, the National party, the NFF and the farming lobby, who are at least as anti-fracking as the 'greens' that you so despise. Of course, you wouldn't have dared to say so when in parliament, given the Coalition.A political tripod. A leg in three different camps, and the most confused argument I've read in quite a while.A shot in all three feet on this one, Peter.

Peter Reith is promoting wind and gas. Ha ha and good luck with the wind- nobody knows where the Victorian government is on that one.

There are dead rivers in Tasmania thanks to mining. But hey the magnates have revised our taxation system and our landscape so they rule.

Meanwhile Barnaby Joyce buys "worthless" land in the middle of a CSG exploration area in the Pilliga Forest.Does he (or his old ex-Nat's Leader-now-CSG-champion John Anderson) know something that we don't?This "debate" is only window dressing - Abbott has stepped back from taking sides and the States are all in line so the deal's already been done.After the traditional period of public intellectual jousting has finished it will simply go ahead and any introduced safeguards will be progressively eased as required.If thousands can protest going to war or march in favor of reconciliation without influencing Government decisions, what chance is there of stopping this from going ahead - especially when the role call of CSG industry representatives reads like an old conservative political party reunion roll call?

Apparently Barnaby's trying to sell it now to avoid a possible conflict of interest, and apparently he didn't buy it for its CSG potential even though it's "mongrel country"!

Sure, he might sell it but probably at a value that will conveniently include its assessed CSG potential. He bought the first block in 2006 and another in 2008 ?to grow wheat and barley or cattle? after Eastern Star Gas explored the Pilliga and they were inside their exploration licence area. Although Eastern Star?s chairman was Barnaby?s friend and Party Leader (then - MP John Anderson) he claims ?no knowledge at all? that the Pilliga was being explored for CSG.No, not suspicious at all. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Land around the edge of the Pilliga Forest is cheap. In fact, for primary production purposes, it might be termed "worthless'' though there are some subsidies to be had.If you think it's such a good thing, you ought to get together with a few of your whining mates and buy some. There's still plenty available, though it's productive capacity is unlikely to cover the rates. I suspect mouth and money are likely to remain separated for the foreseeable future.

Peter, the idea that rising gas prices will roon Victoria unless the government allows fracking companies to do whatever they want is a nonsense. Recently, for instance, it was reported that gas companies have been "leaving gas in the ground that could be profitably sold today, so they can sell the gas more expensively in the future" ('Gas companies "hoarding" for export projects' by Brian Robins in the SMH).In the Northern Territory, oil executives "decline to profitably sell gas in domestic markets today so that gas can be reserved for sale in 15 or 20 years as LNG". Furthermore, the overheads were such that the gas companies refused to sell gas locally because the profit margins for shipping externally (to Japan) were far greater. So, the 'local benefit' argument is flawed as well. And you know, if the pro-fracking argument was really so sound, why would you need to be quite so hysterical in demonising those on the other side of the debate? "Green activists", you say? Well, given Alan Jones has publicly come out in opposition to fracking, does that make him a "green activist" too?

Yep sure Peter Reith, and to all others, rural and city dwellers who think there is nothing wrong with Frucking the soil. No problems at all, till it happens in your backyard, and frucks up your water supply, and frucks up your arable land, and your kids inheritance and future generations are frucked up, and then you find there is no recourse to compo at all. Then it is a different matter.Peter Reith is full of codswallop, spin and toxic crap.Whilst gasland portrays some known swamp lands with methane content, it is also illustrates a very real picture of what will happen in time to land that is been frucked up now.It may take a few generations for the frucking to show up, but in the end the soil will be frucked.

He may still be in parliament now if he stopped his son and household servants gasbagging on our taxes supplied telephone.

If the fracking process in CSG extraction is not harmful and there is no danger of long term problems to our water environment and land then let the government put the evidence on the table so we can make an informed decision. The distinct lack of clear scientific evidence in this arguement either in favour or against CSG development has always amazed me. I can only assume that this evidence does not exist or else the mining companies would have it on the front page of every newpaper. In the absence of this evidence from a responsible source the public is being justfiably cautious. Lets see the data!!

This has become the corner of the internet inhabited by Luddites and Caldicotts.I admire Peter Reith for his work, he is human as are we all, but on the whole his life is spent in public service.I imagine it is the failure of the past 2 governments over 6 years that has enraged people to dislike and hate any alternative thinking.It is odd, you'd think those who voted in the last 2 Labor governments would reflect on their choices and reasoning and realise, they are in a minority now and hurling abuse at Peter Reith, a reasonable man, is a sure sign of their impotence.

"The report of the Select Committee on a Certain Maritime Incident""On 7 November 2001, Minister Reith informed the Prime Minister that, at the least, there were doubts about whether the photographs represented the alleged children overboard incident or whether they represented events connected with SIEV 4?s sinking. Despite direct media questioning on the issue, no correction, retraction or communication about the existence of doubts in connection with either the alleged incident itself or the photographs as evidence for it was made by any member of the Federal Government before the election on 10 November 2001.Minister Reith made a number of misleading statements, implying that the published photographs and a video supported the original report that children had been thrown overboard well after he had received definitive advice to the contrary. The Committee finds that Mr Reith deceived the Australian people during the 2001 Federal Election campaign concerning the state of the evidence for the claim that children had been thrown overboard from SIEV 4."A reasonable man indeed .......

All Australian's can now rest easy - we have Mr Reith's assurance that Fracking will never cause irrepairable poisoning and contamination to our water supplies.Also NSW & Victorian citizens can bank on enjoying substantially cheaper gas costs thanks to these community concious Global Oil & Gas super conglomerates.....just like the WA Govt. promised it's citizens previously.

Why do you give such access to a man like Peter Reith, who was so demonstrably discredited over his involvement in the water front dispute.

This is profoundly ignorant and ignores one of the fundamental issues in how we look at climate change. Living standards will be under vastly more strain if we allow climate change to continue as it is, and jobs won't exist if we don't have a sustainable environment to house them.It seems interesting that Peter complains about a "scare campaign" whereby people are arguing for the protection of the environment. "Scare campaign" is an interesting dysphemism which is universally used instead of the good ol' "I don't like what *insert group* is saying, so I'm going to attempt to legitimise my lack of intellectual basis by spewing worthless dysphemistic terms."It seems Peter doesn't quite know the facts, as we already know that fracking is abysmal for the environment, and we know that it is an extremely poor "band-aid" fix to an issue that needs much, much greater action. That's why we need to move to a sustainable economy. And who knows, maybe one day, if there was any actual form of forward thinking, we could be a world leader in renewable technologies? Looking at the ignorance of this leader, and that of our other leaders, I'm going to assume this isn't very likely however. Oh yeah, and what's with the scary claims that our living standards and jobs will be in danger if we don't take part in immensely damaging actions? Sounds a bit like a scare campaign, doesn't it Peter?

Fracking has caused a lot of damage overseas. The real reason the gas price is going to increase is because now gas will be exported, and we will have to pay the global price. Doesn't matter how much they pull out of the ground, the price will still go up. It is not reduced opportunity to mine this gas that is pushing the price up. And the risk is not worth it.I have friends who's sprng (Northern NSW) is fed by water from PNG, that takes 50 years to flow from there to here. You simply can't clean water that has been poisoned in a subterranean aquifer!

A spring in northern NSW that's fed from PNG ??Sorry but that is complete nonsense. It's slightly below the credibility level of an "old wife's tale".However it's the kind of hokum that's put up in opposition to CSG development all the time. Never mind the facts. Never mind what's well known and demonstrated by several thousand successful wells already. Never mind that very few CSG wells in Qld use fraccing or that there is no evidence of problems with those that do. No - lets bring out ignorant peasant superstitions instead and go back to the dark ages. Perhaps we should go back to sacrificing a virgin each afternoon just to make sure the sun comes up tomorrow.

Simple answer, Peter. Send in the police and the dogs.That'll get the greenies and those annoying National Party agrarian socialists to toe the line.All in the cause of the betterment of the nation, of course.

We have huge natural gas supplies which are being sold off to the rest of the world. The new LNG plants in QLD are not running at capacity which means Fracking WILL take place in NSW for increased profit margins of the petrol chemical companies which then increases higher gas prices's for us all.Big Corporations rule and it's only going to get worse.

"Fracking scare campaigns threaten our prosperity"But nor is outbreak of openness about the nature of the risk forthcoming any time soon!And willingness to accept risk by a corporation is not the same thing as willingness of a populace to accept risks that they can't simply declare bankruptcy to expunge!

Laberal politicians have through their own incompetence, negligence and contempt for the public interest (such as not imposing any gas reserve for domestic use) created a gas shortage by falling over themselves to rubber-stamp Big Energy's arrogant export demands, despite having been forced by public opposition to limit the environmental destruction that is CSG.Big Energy and the politicians it owns are now exploiting the problems they've created in the Eastern States to Big Energy's advantage, by using the resulting shortage of gas to insist that ?we? need open-slather on CSG for domestic supply. Thus the politicians not only get the graft from transnational energy exploiters for selling out, but also blackmail us into measures (i.e. open-slather CSG extraction) that are environmentally damaging, reward Big Energy's disdain, and may be socially and industrially damaging (note the certainty of price increases). Who benefits most? Big Energy's profits!They are assisted by trade union traitors such as P. Howes. His traitorousness was patent ? his ?call for the rapid development of onshore gas resources in south-east Australia to save manufacturing jobs? suffered from the core difficulty that since export parity had been introduced, all local production would be at export parity prices.1 Only reservation of gas production at the pre-LNG export price level could achieve the result he claimed to want.Any development by Australia for Australians threatens the freedom of the big LNG players to dictate their own terms. Note how no questions are asked about the value to us of these huge LNG projects. Sometimes we need to say NO, refuse the approvals, and retrospectively legislate for domestic gas reservation. That - plus prohibition of any further export licences - is what NSW should demand.

Peter, reports indicate that there is a 'ban' on hydraulic fracturing in Fance because of environmental concerns. The government would not have gone to such extremities unless there were problems with the hydraulic fracturing process.

Unless, of course, they were an erratic, irresponsible, populist government dependent on the Green Party vote, like the one we had until about two months ago. Then, anything might happen.

Yes, its a process that is totally harmless to the environment, just ask anyone living in rural Illinois.

Scare campaign??? You have go to be kidding.You only have to look back at the history of asbestos to see the lengths that the indistrial/mining sectors will go to to make money. The adverse impacts on people are just unfortunate collatorel damage!

Same with smoking. The tobacco resisted every attempt at regulation and kept denying the obvious for decades. The tobacco industry still has apologists in the Liberal Party.

I am not a scientist, and I don't want to comment on fracking, but I do want to comment on "n't" element of all this.We can't do nuclear.We can't do hydro.We can't do fracking.What can we do? Well, we can keep on with what we are doing now and burn lots of fossil fuels....does anyone smell a rat?Nah, I'm just paranoid, the people who are fracking us just happen to be in the right place at the right time. Wouldn't be manipulating us, would they?Rent a crowds have been known to have been bought.

Yes Harquebus, that's just about the only practical thing that we can do....but Hitler tried a bad press.

I don't mind fracking, as long as the industry is not afforded any immunity to unlimited damages claims, and board members are criminally liable. If it's safe, they should have nothing to worry about - and shouldn't have any problem with these conditions.

Headline, "Fracking scare campaigns threaten our prosperity"What a shame you couldn't implicate 'The Trade Unions' on this one.Ergo, our prosperity is not threatened by 'The Unions'.What a pleasant surprise. No doubt, as hard as you tried, there was no way you could blame the Unions.So now someone else is 'the bad guy'...

"The most immediate issue is that in the early years from 2014, the Queensland LNG export plants may not be able to acquire sufficient natural gas from their new gas fields and, in that case, they will source gas from sources otherwise slated for domestic use...".What I can't understand is why these plants were made so large then? Surely if there isn't enough gas available for export, that's a problem for the companies to deal with. Why should consumers in Australia be forced to pay more for gas simply because these gas companies want more product to sell overseas and are happy to buy and sell domestic gas on overseas markets.Conservatives have been screaming about the increase to electricity prices over recent years and trying to lay most of the blame for rises on the Carbon Tax. Here we are on the eve of possible rises in gas prices, yet it seems that the Conservatives have no real idea on how to manage this issue, short of rolling over at the feet of big business and allowing them to take whatever they think they deserve and exploit it as quickly as possible, even before appropriate checks and balances have taken place. If Greg Hunt brings in legislation that will allow States to have more say on environmental issues, with the Federal Government taking more of a back-seat role, then folk like Campbell Newman will be in charge. Sorry, but Can-Do worries me as I doubt he gives the environment much thought at all and only pays lip-service to environmental concerns. When will people wake up to the fact that you can have a natural environment without necessarily needing an economy, but you absolutely can't have an economy if there is no natural environment in which to run it.

Gas prices are rising, yes. That's because we export so much of our gas and because Australia will move gas to a world parity price as a result. Nothing to do with a scarcity of gas, in fact, the mad rush to export Australia's mineral resources so we can maintain a wasteful consumerist lifestyle now will impoverish future Australians when it runs out.

Who cares about some of our richest farmlands, Peter Reith?Who cares if the ground water is destroyed.Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had thousands of fracking mines all over the farmlands, and all the lovely chemicals they use leached into the Great Artesian Basin, poisoning it for generations.Reith is misleading us about gas prices. It's well known now that if we start exporting gas (which most of the gas mined will be going overseas) the prices will rise to meet international pricing.Yes, let's use the Australian newspaper as a source of truth!Probably written by Andrew Bolt-head, one of the most misleading journalists (I use the term loosely) we have. He's as believable as Alan Jones.

Just what qualification or experience does Peter Reith possess which suits him to have been part of this inquiry? Someone lost their marbles on this one. Scientists and farmers are the ones who know what they are talking about regarding water supply and safety of supply. A failed and very grubby ex-politician who spends most of his time rubbishing Labor is someone whose expertise on CSG would be a big fat zero.

We have just seen a woodchipper scoff at suggestions of harm to koalas only to have to eat crow and say oh yeah sorry -'s biggest wood-chipping company admits koala mistreatment''In July, 7.30 had a story about thousands of koalas facing injury or death due to the logging of vast tracts of bluegum timber in south eastern Australia.The report named the country's largest woodchip exporter, Australian Bluegum Plantations. The company ridiculed the suggestion that koalas were under threat, but since then, it's being slammed in an environment audit and forced into a public admission that it has injured and killed koalas."So those flogging CSG for their own financial gains can hardly be expected to say anything other than no problems with fracking until they too have to say sorry. Well here's the thing. Sad as it is for koalas they can maybe be reintroduced if the habitat is regenerated. But once groundwater and areas like the Pilaga are ruined, that's it. There is no going back and sorry is not enough. While those that seek short term gain spruik the economics line and x number of jobs, the reality is that factored in are never costs for the risks that these projects pose to every other alternative use and to pay for cleanup when it all goes pearshaped. It is society and the taxpayer that have to deal with the fallout. This is not good enough. Bring on a royal commission or an enquiry or a referendum because somehow the message people don't want CSG and fracking does not seem to be getting through and whose interests are being served by forging ahead like this raises serious questions.

Pete goes overboard shouting JOBS JOBS JOBS. From a person whose ideological bent has been to spend years ranting on about doing way with any protections and security around jobs for workers and promoting allowing bosses to get away with whatever they want. Billioniares bemoaning that they cant pay Australians $2 for a days work. Put the two together and what we have is promotions to work harder for less money for one percenter bloating fests. My guess is gas prices will never come down. I suspect the gas industry isnt there to make Austalians life easier but to make billionaires more bloated and frack the consequences. Victorians should look every very carefully at any reports and such, remember their history before they throw the babies overboard with the bathwater.

This man Reith is an expert on all manner of things.Hardly a week goes by when he is not voicing his lofty opinion.on some seemingly important matter.Why is he not held in the highest esteem?Why are there not statues of this man in every town square across this wide brown land?Why don't we install him as our Dear Leader,and praise him to the highest gods in the universe?When he passes on,as all humans must do, we can then instal his telephone loving Dear Son,and so continue our worship of this all,knowing,all seeing Dear Leading Family,we are so fortunate to have in our,poor,forelorn country.

Arthur 1Reith almost became president of the Liberal party,it's a reflection on the party I.Q and moral standard's.

An unbelievably dishonest article from the prince of misinformation.For example: "There is virtually no country in the world that bans fracking because there is no reason to do so."Here is an inconvenient fact, Peter Reith:On 11 October 2013, France's highest constitutional court upheld a ban on hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," ruling that the law prohibiting it is a valid means of protecting the environment. France had banned all fracking in 2011, when it cancelled all existing licences. One of the American companies affected by the ban, Schuepbach Energy, tried to challenge it on constitutional rather than environmental grounds (it clearly knew it wouldn't win on the latter). Fortunately common sense prevailed in the French courts and this month the frackers have been very firmly told "NON."I assume that France, which clearly values its agriculture and water much more highly than does Australia, is one of those countries that Reith so breathtakingly relegates to the "virtually no country" category. The French case was extensively reported internationally, and Reith could not have been unaware of it.It is one thing to allow opinion from all sides of the Australian political spectrum. It is another thing to permit the peddling of blatant falsehoods. The Drum should be applying more rigorous editorial assessment to claims made by such partisan propagandists as Peter Reith.

All I can say is - wow! I doubt I have read more ignorance on fracking (correct term "well stimulation")than I have in these comments. Please people, you need to go and either work in the industry (as I have before) or at least sit down and have a beer with someone that has or does work in the industry. I have never seen a news article, tv or radio program discussing fracking with someone like a Petroleum Engineer or the like - these are the ones who know the process inside out, and I might add, know the risks and potential benefits better than anyone else. Peter Reith also is no more expert than most of the people commenting here. Stop working off hearsay and second hand accounts of scary stories without checking the validity of said stories.I worked on several hundred gas and oil wells, and never once was an environmental/contamination problem reported. If such a thing occurred, I and the crew I worked with would have been told about it so that such a thing would not occur again, as no company wants to get a reputation as bad operators - corporate image and all that. The biggest problem I ever heard of was from a crew that had unfortunately had some uncovered gel powder (guar) eaten by some cattle who subsequently died from digestion problems. To the best of my knowledge the owner was compensated. Most people would not realise that fracking "chemicals" are all things found and consumed in our kitchens and things like friction reducers are basically soaps. Yes there are potential hazards of breaking into water reservoirs, although the science is now so precise that it is virtually impossible. Do cowboys exist in the industry, no doubt yes, but the industry in this country is so well regulated and there are so many environmental hoops to jump through, the cowboys are quickly weeded out before any harm is done.One of the ironies of fracking, is that in the US it is accepted that most of the reduction in CO2 output can be attributed to shale fracking, something this country could emulate, considering the massive known shale deposits in South Australia.Now don't take my word for it on this subject, go and find the facts yourselves.

Were any of those wells in known areas of underground water supply? We actually have plenty of natural gas and the need for CSG is nonsense.

Yes. All were in the Great Artesian Basin. I will note that I once assisted in "dewatering" an old gas well with nitrogen, to see if it would come back on line - it didn't. If there is any water contamination problems, it is water migrating INTO gas/oil wells not the other way around. I might add that this water is generally very salty and has no commercial use (unless you want to de-salinate it). Having said that, it is important for operators to dispose of this brackish water appropriately.

Thanks for that. Do you have any knowledge of drilling wells in Victoria where there are a number of unique aquifers which are the source of underground water for farmers? The farming land bordering the Murray and the many Victorian rivers (which don't flow to the sea) and the very specific geological formations there ? I know the Great Artesian Basin is huge but were you in any farming areas, as opposed to say just grazing. While some are concerned about contamination I am more interested in possible wrecking of aquifers.

I worked mainly in grazing areas, but I did do a short stint in a cotton growing regions of QLD, so I couldn't comment with what's going on in VIC. Still, I don't want to harp on it, but at this stage, there is no proven contamination of aquifers or river systems in Australia that I'm aware of from fracking. Certainly no contamination proven by science or regulators. Perhaps you don't realise this but because of the depths we are talking about, almost all gas and oil wells drill through aquifers to get to the geologic zones that contain the resource, with a production string and cement preventing any cross-contamination. When a well is to be put into production, its casing is perforated where the production zone is, and then a frack (stimulation) is conducted to help release the resource from the rock. When fracking, it is all about horsepower, pressure and rate of pumping. Most of the fluid is water and proppant (sand), and less than 1% is chemical. I wouldn't get hung up on the issue of the aquifers, because as I said before, the industry is well regulated in this country, but it doesn't mean you can't ask questions of the industry, and if you want to, keep asking questions of the EPA, who it seems haven't found not too much to get excited about. I might add that I have been a farmer myself so I understand the concerns, but having worked in the industry, I'm comfortable with the practices of the vast majority of operators.

Again, thanks for the reply. I shall just hope that no coal seam gas exists in the area I referred to. Drilling would be a disaster for aquifers/underground water there. It is not particularly deep. Also a bit on the fragile side. Going through them could be very upsetting to the system as it is known.

CSG 'mining' has not actually had much science done on it, i.e. in the matters of underground water, potential problems with the environment as in groundwater dependent ecosystems among other things. CSG is relatively new to Australia. Our environment is unique although there are some similarities with parts of America.

water is not going to migrate into a fracked gas well simply because the gas is under a lot of pressure -- that is what fracking is about! If the wells are not fracked, then a lot of gas can still come out, but not as quickly. Water may migrate into the well, but this just cannot be such a big problem, and nothing like the problem of gas and other stuff in the ground water.

Show me the verified science where fracking has caused gas to enter an aquifer, then I'll be convinced. Otherwise keep your superstitions to the astrology pages!

Mmm, those employed by the industry saying all is good. I've heard this before and years later have learnt that the statement had not been correct.It seem a major mining company was not to worried about it's reputation being damaged in Ok Tedi.

Savings on CO2 emissions are being offset by methane leakage at the well heads and processing. What was that about taking your word and finding out the facts?

How can governments agree to fracking when it is so fraught problems and is destine to cause long term damage to the environment. The American Govt when authorising the broad scale exploitation ofCSG decreed that the process would not have to comply with environmental laws. Un-fortunately many politicians and ex?s have become mired in the promotion of this questionable activity.Australia has dumbly followed suit and allowed the same technology to be used by foreign-owned companies all to do like-wise under the guise that we are going to face an engergy crisis if we do not extract the gas. Where is the gas going - majority to be sold overseas ! We have one of the driest country and it is accepted that we are to fracture the underlying earth structure and suck out all the ground water in order that the gas is released. Farmers may well know what broad-acre framing is about but not understand what this mining is about. The extensive blanket-grid layout of the well mast heads is tantamount to broad-acre mining. The potential for large damage is in the extreme. How do we plug the fissures and in the earth structure and aquifers once the wells are no longer useful ? How do we control exactly where the gas will escape to even after the well end life, how does the permeating gas effect the microbes in the soils of the valuable farmlands ? What do we do with all the holding ponds of contaminated ground water - is it too simplistic for the water just to evaporate. What protection is there for the animals and wild-life that consume the water ? Then there is the toxic chemicals used in the process what is the accumulative effect of these on an otherwise pristine environment. Like the deepest oceans the The Great Artesian Basin is largely un-explored, it is value is underestimated, unknown and should not be compromised by a short-term gamble on CSG. CSG mining is an anathema and should be banned for now and the future there is many other cleaner energy alternatives that are better to serve our energy needs.

Increasing the energy supply when the world faces an oversupply of thermal coal will only increase the economic losses suffered by Australia due to its massive (over) investment in energy exports. Major energy importers are adopting new technology to convert low-grade coal to synthetic natural gas so they can avoid crippling prices demanded for LNG imports. Japan is lobbying other LNG importers to reform the world LNG market in a concerted effort to reduce the price. The US is boosting coal exports at a time when China is cutting back on imports.Australia can suffer increasing job losses in coal mining communities while shifting scarce investment dollars to natural gas production, or do as other economies are doing, and convert coal, crop waste and solar thermal energy to synthetic natural gas. Investing to create am over-supply in both the thermal coal and LNG export markets at the same time is a poor investment strategy.

Fracking is already coming apart in the USA. It's known as the Red Queen Syndrome, after the character in Through the Looking-Glass who tells Alice, "It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place."Wells created by fracking are running out MUCH quicker than expected. An ordinary well extracts the resource at about 5% per year, meaning the well lasts around 20 years. Wells created by fracking produce at lower gas rates than conventional wells and extract 60-70% of the resource in the first year alone. Thereafter it gets harder and more expensive to extract.The higher production goes, the more wells you need to offset the decline and guarantee supply. As the gas becomes much harder and much more expensive to extract after the first few years, they wells are often sold to more speculative companies to extract what remains. When that company gets down to 95% of the extracted gas, they are onsold again to shell companies with few assets who might extract another couple of per cent. These companies are often then would up leaving the wells abandoned.It is then left to the taxpayer to plug the wells and clean up the land. The industry has resisted any attempt to impose a bond which would be held in trust to cover the cost needed to plug and reclaim abandoned wells.

We need to get that pesky great artesian basin out of the way of honest people trying to make a profit. Down with farmers too.

We need to make up our tiny minds whether we are talking about the GAB, or groundwater, or other minor aquifers. Or what?

Why? For the purposes of this article water is water. What is truly appalling is that here we have a disgraced politician with zero relevant qualifications trying to convince us that a few miners should take precedence over all other considerations. What is also appalling is that he may have been paid for it.It needs to be filed under "I'm alright Jack."

Folks note the weasel words from Pete "Fracking" Reith,<<<<< "There is virtually no country in the world that bans fracking".<<<<<<Virtually No country..well not true.<<<>>>The Czech government will ban fracking soon.In Canada..Quebec, British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia have also banned fracking.In USA..the states of;New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Maryland have banned fracking.Pittsburgh city & Mora County New Mexico have banned fracking.Globally a clear majority of citizens oppose we have a democratic issue that our dear author seems to be very upset about! Why is this so???Does Mr Reith hold any gas shares????Now I am not pro or anti the data are not clear..I am merely saying only that our dear mate Pete is using weasel words..So Mr Reith what else in this article is spin & weasel worded too????

Unlike you Peter Reith, I want our farmers to be able to continue to grow food and raise livestock without worrying about their water supply. I will be supporting them to the hilt on the issue of water and food security.

Reith support fracking. What would you expect from a narrow right winger who only looks for profit from a situation and to hell with the consequences.It's time that National party voters demand that the Coalition be null and void until the Liberals stop selling them out to big, dirty, mainly foreign corporations. They get the dollars and we get irreparable damage to the environment and productive farm land.The Liberals have truly lost the plot.

Reading the comments I can see that PR is correct saying that the scare campaigns have run too far.The majority of comments are from people that are scared of gas extraction activities. It's obvious that very few have any knowledge or experience but are completely convinced of the disasters that gas development has or will create.As an environmental professional of 20 years experience, and having observed a lot of CSG developments in Queensland, I don't see these disasters occurring nor much evidence that they are even possible. The horrors of contaminated water, poisoned soils and human health impacts that I hear of just don't exist. They are myths spread virulently because trust those that spread them. Because these people carry the label of "green" they must speak for the earth. Because they are so passionate they must be genuine. Alas it's all a load of bunk and a shame that so much fear is generated and resources are diverted from real environmental issues in addressing fake ones.

Of course, Meta4, you don't care about the environment because you probably worked for big business.You probably also don't care about farmers' livelihoods. After all, we can import most of it cheaper now, anyway, although I'm doubtful about the quality and pricing when the two supermarket chains put farmers out of business by their horrendous pricing structures.

Serenity .. FYI I do care about the environment and it doesn't matter who I work for although for most of my career I have worked in a very small business or for myself. But unlike most of those commenting here, I know and understand Australian environments, their flora and fauna and the systems they depend upon. I have spent most of my life out there observing and I am familiar with CSG developments and their potential impacts upon the natural environment and farmers livelihoods. CSG extraction is quite benign and just doesn't rank as a serious environmental threat. The gasfield I have been working on lately has more wildlife habitat and fauna species as well as rare plants than you'd find on any of the surrounding grazing lands. The grazing lands nearby have gas wells and grazing continues with no loss of productivity to the landowners.The fears of the evils of CSG are at best misguided but often intentionally generated hysteria.

My concern is mainly for the security and non-contamination of any underground water. That water comes from a number of different sources. It is totally different in Victoria and it should not be fiddled with or experimented on. That water is in fact more valuable than any CSG.

If you are an "environmental professional of 20 years experience, and having observed a lot of CSG developments" as you claim, please list the names of ALL chemicals which are injected right through the water table deep into the ground.As an "environmental professional of 20 years experience" you must also be aware of the fact that the "environment" is different from one region to another all over the country. Different geological formations, as you know it. Do you base your claim on the fact that no harm is done at all to the environment in all these different places? Considering that the assesment of a man-made-change, impact to the environment, will take many years, more than your 20-year experience, for decades, how can you state confidently that there is no harm done today. This is not acceptable. This is gambling with the environment and with the future of coming generations.

If fracking is such a benign activity then why won't the mining companies tell us what chemicals they are pumping into the ground

also very convenient as an 'excuse' for hiding from the public just how toxic most of those additives are. Wouldn't want those annoying water-drinkers to get upset. Everyone can just go and drink koolaid and ignore the poisoning of the water and environment, yet again.

Guar, baking powder, acetic acid , hydrochloric acid, oxidisers, proponols, chlorine, fungicides, caustic soda and other soaps to name most in general use in fracking. Don't panic though, as less than 1% of what is pumped into the formation is all those chemicals, most of what is used (99%)is water and proppant. Almost all of the above chemicals named you will have consumed today in one form or another, whether in food or drink. The chemicals used by the farmers are more dangerous in proportion (particularly the S7 and S6 types), than what is used in the fracking industry. By the way the biggest user of chemicals in this nation is the average householder, you and me, and no-one has to be licensed or do a chemical handling course to take it home from the supermarket or hardware store. Like everything else, it is always about proportion, and everyone commenting on this website have been exposed to more chemicals in their own homes they have bought themselves, than they would be from a 1000 frack sites. So my answer to you - don't sweat it!

It never occurred to me to drink it since it was in a gel form and would be difficult to swallow anyway (as well as leaving you feeling bloated - a common diet trick by consuming gel products), and besides I already had plenty of water to quench my thirst, however some days we would get pretty soaked in the stuff with out any adverse effects and no need for emergency shower. If I got a splash of acid, caustic soda or chlorine on me whilst mixing, now that's different, I would want to rinse that off immediately since that is in pure form. You see I made the stuff so I know what went into it. The acetic acid and caustic soda was used to control the PH value of the gel and the baking powder as buffer. Some of the other chemicals used were for "crosslinking" the gel to make it solidify as it went down the well-bore, but that was only added during the pumping process. With CSG fracking it is mainly water, sand and soaps for friction reducing, and I wouldn't want to drink that either. Who would drink soapy water - that's just silly. Once again don't sweat about the "chemicals". If you are concerned in general about chemicals getting into the food chain or water supplies, then I suggest you purchase all your food only from an "organic" farmer (or grow your own) and don't drink tap water as that is treated with fluoride and chlorine for your consumption. It sometimes pays to acknowledge that some of our fears are at times irrational. I suspect you don't think so, so it probably is a waste of time trying to convince you otherwise.

I wouldn't be surprised if the first asbestos workers felt fine for quite a long while too - until they all started dying.

Just been in a convo wit some dude called Mark O on here. I asked him about benzene and toluene being pumped down the wells. He said that these chemicals (amongst others) are by products of the process and get released from the seam during the fracking (along with all that lovely methane).Would you drink that?

Thanks for your question Polly,The answer to your question can be found by anyone, using Wikipedia.I quote;"The fracturing fluid varies in composition depending on the type of fracturing used, the conditions of the specific well being fractured, and the water characteristics. A typical fracture treatment uses between 3 and 12 additive chemicals.[54] Although there may be unconventional fracturing fluids, the more typically used chemical additives can include one or more of the following:* Acids?hydrochloric acid (usually 5%-28%), or acetic acid is used in the pre-fracturing stage for cleaning the perforations and initiating fissure in the near-wellbore rock.[64]* Sodium chloride (salt)?delays breakdown of the gel polymer chains.[64]* Polyacrylamide and other friction reducers?minimizes the friction between fluid and pipe, thus allowing the pumps to pump at a higher rate without having greater pressure on the surface.[64]* Ethylene glycol?prevents formation of scale deposits in the pipe.[64]* Borate salts?used for maintaining fluid viscosity during the temperature increase.[64]* Sodium and potassium carbonates?used for maintaining effectiveness of crosslinkers.[64]* Glutaraldehyde?used as disinfectant of the water (bacteria elimination).[64]* Guar gum and other water-soluble gelling agents?increases viscosity of the fracturing fluid to deliver more efficiently the proppant into the formation.[61][64]* Citric acid?used for corrosion prevention.* Isopropanol?increases the viscosity of the fracture fluid.[64]"If you are comfortable with this stuff in your local aquifer, then you probably never wear a seat belt, leave your hungry Rottweiler in charge of the toddlers, and go bunging jumping without an elastic band because elastic bands are only for sissies.For more fracking factoids see

Mr Hunt, how many times have I said to you that Wikipedia is not a reliable source of information.Sorry I couldn't resist

You do realise that tapwater you drink has chlorine and fluoride in it for you to consume, or is that OK. Even bottled water has salts added for "taste".

Fracking chemicals:acetic acid- found in vinegarsodium chloride- saltPolyacrylamide - used to treat drinking waterguar gum- made from guar beanscitric acid- found in orangeschemicals used to treat drinking (tap) water in Australia:calcium hydroxidecarbon dioxidehydrated aluminium sulphatepolyelectrolyteozonesodium hypochloritepotassium permanganate

As a long time employee in the oil & gas industry ( 34 years ) perhaps Mr Reith you ought to spend some time around such enterprises and maybe you will have a grasp of the engineering that goes into the oil & gas industry, in particular well completions.Instead of viewing a wellhead from your car , actually get out and watch a well being completed. Well casing does not last forever particularly in high H2s conditions. This leads to casing failure and then the gas escapes into the casing annuli causing high pressures in the annulus and then if the cementing job around the well casing is faulty then there is an escape of product. In the event this happens ,then the well has to be killed . By the time a rig is mobilised who knows how much product has escaped . But you will be safe in your office so no harm done there ! Your comments are typical of people who have never worked on a drill floor.This furphy about gas shortages is rot , Bass Strait is supplying gas to NSW , Tasmania and Victoria and will continue to do so for many, many decades and for you to imply otherwise is disingenuous .

Peter Reith is grossly ill-informed on the economic, environmental, and social issues surrounding the CSG industry in Australia. Domestic gas prices will rise (in fact almost double) when the CSG companies start exporting CSG from Gladstone because for the first time in Australian history our domestic gas market will be linked the international gas market and the international price. International demand, rather than domestic supply, has EVERYTHING to do with this price hike. (see the 'cooking up a price rise' article on the Australia Institute website).There is still no conclusive scientific evidence that the carbon footprint of the CSG production life cycle is less than coal. Why? Because the petroleum industry has done next to no research on the greenhouse gas emissions of CSG production since the 1990s. It uses out of date and inadequate data to guestimate at best the carbon footprint of the industry. This same data can be used to ?prove? that the carbon footprint of the CSG industry is in fact MORE than coal. (see the Crikey article 'Behind the Seams: the science behind CSG?s clean credentials').Oh yes, that ?independent? report for the department on the environmental and health impacts of the bubbles in the Condamine. The report?s conclusion was based upon an assessment of the bubble?s environmental & health toxicity. Any conclusion on the impacts of GHG emissions to the atmosphere was beyond the scope of the report. Being a member of a farming family from east of Roma, I find Mr Reith?s throw away comment that CSG has been a ?boon for the regional Queensland including farmers? to be completely outrageous. The article he refers to in the Australian features CSG pin-up boy Peter Thompson, who incidentally, has been the CSG pin-up boy for years (surely if things were working out so well for farmers, the CSG industry would have a whole swag of happily co-existing farmers to trot out for PR purposes?). The vast majority of farmers are stressed out by negotiating and policing land access agreements, and by the fact that CSG companies are stealing the water that they are dependent upon for running their businesses (yes, yes, ?made good? arrangements can be made, however, CSG companies have yet to show how they will be able to do this when there is no water left).I suggest that instead of just relying upon the APPEA (the petroleum industry?s peak body) website for information regarding the social and environmental impacts of CSG, Peter Reith should thoroughly examine the Basin Sustainability Alliance?s website before even thinking of forming an opinion on these complex issues that most city dwellers struggle to get their heads around.

Bec, you made the mistake of mentioning greenhouse gas emissions. The libs don't believe in Climate Change or Global Warming. As their fearless leader, Tony Abbott once said, global warming is crap. So Carbon footprints don't come into the picture.

A tiny minority of very rich vandals want to become even richer at the expense of the planet.We have the numbers to prevail, this is a fight for a future worth living in.

If Peter Reith truly aspires to be a responsible propagandist he should be loudly promoting a complete ban on all coal and gas exports.

A lot of the propoganda against fracking can be traced to groups funded by Gas producing entites with a vested interest in the status quo. A perfect example is the film PROMISED LAND This film was financed by Image Nation Abu Dhabi, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media, which is wholly owned by the United Arab Emirates, who as a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has "a direct financial interest in Curtailing fracking by Western companies.

Incredible this topic is even considered. It boggles the mind that these 'conservative' governments just don't care what they do to our life support system. Don't they have families?

Haven't you realised by now that making money means more than families. They just make the excuse that they are doing it for their family. Once they convince themselves of that the rest becomes easy.

They're not actually 'conservative', that label is just as silly as applying 'liberal', rightwing, leftwing, when it's all just the same old corruption and elitism running the show. They're not even truly 'capitalist' since Free Market is just a term of convenience used when it benefits THEIR wealth, but ignored when it comes to protecting their vested interests against any fair competition, ethical considerations, or legal restrictions that might force them to stop ripping everyone else off.

I could not be convinced by any so called study that Peter Reith signed off on. His record as a politician over too many years left a lot to be desired. Why do both parties keep these people on the payroll by by giving them these nice little money earners. Did getting voted out make them smarter Once this fracking is carried out, no matter if the likes of Reith are wrong, the damage to the water table has been done & it is irrervisible. There is no stopping this lot, they want the money to prop up their insatiable need for same, all because of bad management, & stupid as they are, they must realise that there is not much left to sell or privatise. I have posed that question in a few letters, but never a reply. Larger landholders, need to stick in the fight to keep them out, because there is already talk of possible drilling in the suburbs, & O'Farrell has long since forgotten about those who voted his party in.

Reith is correct for once! The vast majority of the 'NO CSG" crowd are just lemmings conned by the Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (aka FUD) created by the Greens. The simple fact is that most of them have absolutely no knowledge of the science or technology behind the industry: they have no ability or skill to judge in which situations fracking is or isn't potentially dangerous. And the Greens know this and use this FUD to fund their political campaigns. And of course undermining democracy by attacking its energy base (ala global warming, mining etc) is in line with the Green socialist doctrine of "back to the caves".

It's true that most of the people who are against fracking aren't scientists, but so are most of the people who promote fracking and try to claim that it's safe. The fracking proponents rely just as much on general ignorance, so lie a lot about the 'science' and pretend that everything will always be fine. However, the alarmingly repetitive disastrous consequences of fracking are becoming increasingly well known, and the favouritism of a few paid PR spokespeople and dodgy political biases aren't doing much to hide the truth. Going around poisoning the water and pretending it's OK has never been popular except among those who profit from ignoring the issue of that poisoned water. The fracking proponents are often citing corporate-funded 'junk science', and it's becoming blatantly obvious. It has NOTHING whatsoever to do with 'global warming', and many of the same folks - like me - who think that AGW is exaggerated doom & gloom are also equally aware that there's enormous evidence now that fracking is dangerous and the so-called "science" is paid for, biased, and little better than lies using pretty technical jargon and BS statistics made up and/or cherry-picked.

Yeah, those pro frackers really have the science and facts worked out. Being cautious with things like farmland and water is just dumb. And undemocratic!

"knowledge of the science or technology behind the industry: they have no ability or skill to judge in which situations fracking is or isn't potentially dangerous."The worry is that few people do have this knowledge.

"Unlikely"Not good enough.Leave our water resources alone. They are irreplaceable. All this CSG stuff is just to please foreign markets who won't be paying for any problems created by their consumption.

I may vote liberal but I am also a realist, fracking is simply bad news, just look at what has happened in the US. They have water that actually burns due to the crap that is used, the underground water is poisened and the land above is useless. We have the great artesian basin under where some of these people want to frack, if that is poisened then you can say goodbye to the farms right along the east coast and several towns as well.If fracking is so great why are so many US people against it, seems the only ones that are for it are those that are getting or going to get financial rewards. Youn are doing yourself a great diservice here and giving me reason to see why you are not in parliament any longer, seems your pockets are just too deep.

Thank you Peter, for an informative, accurate and honest article, which has, predictably, got the verbose and disingenuous " environmentalists " in a conservative tizz, however, the tone of most of the "comments" is instructive, so not a complete loss.

The basic essentials of life being food, water and shelter must stop being traded as a commodity or the whole earth will end up like Africa.

I read this article, and all the comments hoping to learn something. Something like;1. what are the feared contaminants?2. What is their toxicity?3. What is their solubility in water?$. What is the likelihood that aquifers will become contaminated in any one case? - in all cases?5. How difficult would it be to purify the water to potable standards if it did become contaminated"?For what it is worth, I can tell you that flammable gas was bubbling up in some parts of the Maranoa River in 1956/57.Drinking that water didn't seem to do us any harm. In other places when the water was stagnant the concentration of magnesium sulphate was high enough to cause a rather dire rear.It is immensely uninformative to read reams of a fracking is terrible/fracking is wonderful argument.

when something is relevant to enviromental protection, no matter the decisions are, there always be a heat debate and hard to satisfy both sides, and finally, things always go ugly.

It was hardly used by anyone commercially until the 1990s, so 'YES' it's still relatively new. Very few countries have any fracking going at all, so shouldn't surprise anyone that there are fewl laws either way about it. It misrepresents the facts to claim that this means it's considered 'safe' though.

The opinion of mine, the using of fossil fuels is necessary for the economic development, and the nuclear power is also a reliable and believable new power and resource. But the thing is linked the water resource. So there are so many different opinion of it. But on natural gas, I think there are many places and countries using it now, for example Queensland,and we can learn from these places' problems and fix them and do not step the old way they did. That will be better. So as the nuclear power.

The respected journal Nature has published a study showing that human greenhouse gas emissions are transforming the planet so rapidly that 5 billion people currently live in places where the climate will exceed historical bounds of temperature variability by 2050 if emissions continue unabated.More scare-mongering Peter Reith?

So far it has slipped under the media's radar, but this week the powerful industry lobby group, the Minerals Council of Australia, launched a campaign to further "streamline" the environmental assessment requirements for proposed projects by eliminating any need for specific on-site investigations of the affected land. All that the companies will need to do is consult a general online database of environmental features ... a kind of Google Maps for Miners.Assuming the strong likelihood that governments will endorse this, what does it mean for CSG? Easier, faster approvals, most definitely. But due caution in addressing the consequences for essential groundwater supplies? I wouldn't bet on it.

This article is really disappointing for a Drum piece, rolling out only the most basic industry lobby lines and providing little genuine analysis. For example, the argument that if we don't do this our gas prices will go up is total dross. Our gas prices will go up almost entirely because QLD is going to export their unconventional gas resource, not because of some perilous looming shortage. And all the extra Victorian gas in the world won't stop us paying the international price for it. Funnily enough the US doesn't export theirs.

Oh how wonderful to see a biased scientific illiterate in charge of a scientific matter. Fair Dinkum. There would not be a water scientist in creation who thinks fracking is a good idea, unless they work for the fracker. Coal miners crack the bottom out of rivers, no worries. Just suppose Peter Reith that the fracking fractures the basement rock of an aquifer. Guess what, no more aquifer. In farming areas, residential areas and shallow water irrigation zones fracking is scientifically just plain stupid. It is utter vandalism. But no worries, the Liberals have abolished science.

What good is is "proserity" when the environment is stuffed? "Scare campigns" or valid research? Peter you being a conservative and by definition an environmental vandal, you would say it is a scare campaign. Conservatives put money above common sense every time. It is like your mate Tonyscraping the MRRT instead of raising it 3 or 4 fold (the mining companies want the minerals they'll gladly pay for it to get their grubby little hands on it) and then out dear PM has the gall to say by scraping it the country will be $13B better off. In other words if you give away the minerals the country will be better off.

Induced hydraulic fracturing is a skill that inject the mixture of water, sand and other chemicals with high pressure in order to make some fractures and collect things like natural gas and petroleum right? I am pretty curious about the risk of it. Can it be sure that it will not lead to any kind of damage to the land? I understand why the Greens are against this fracking thing as there is the possibility resulting in water as well as air pollution. Without doubt, we could not ignore the merit of natural gas, that it is cleaner and safer. I totally agree with the idea that we need to make the best use of a thing. Natural gas could definitely be considered as a comparative advantage of Victoria, which also has a chance to make its contribution to local economy. However, with rapid growth economically, we could not forget that protecting the environment is for the future. So, I am looking forward to knowing the plan that local government really come up with to balance these two things.

I can believe your argument on the proviso that you can absolutely give an ironclad guarantee that the water tables are affected. What good is money if there is no water.

Of course HE should know everything about scare campaigns.The Mother of them all must surely be the three year long election campaign in which people's religious sensitivities were frenziedly marshalled to optimize the Coalition vote. Poor people could not distinguish God from Mammon. The fracking campaign of course is devilish because it will have as a consequence that Mammon's disciples will be deprived of their daily bread. Inheriting the earth is not for the meek, alas.

>have adverse repercussions for living standards and jobs<The same could have been said about the slave trade, and probably was.Much the same has been said in my lifetime about cigarettes, alcohol advertising, even fizzy drinks in schools (if we don't get them in the habit when young, we will lose our market), DDT in farming (still used in Australia), lead in petrol, impact adsorbing bumper bars on cars, controls on poker machines, asbestos, ... need I go on?And whose living standards are you talking about?

There?s always arguments when comes to environment and economy or energy. There are scientists saying is ok and scientists being oppose to it. I think environment is really the most important thing since it has been so vulnerable that we may do irreparable harm to it, especially water sources. If there?s a pretty high risk, why not stop doing it. There will be ways for replacement though the other plan may not be as good as the original one.

A prophetic article Peter - as you predicted many of the expert commentators here want to keep the status quo, just like the fire loads in your forests.

A look at Reith's biography shows no qualifications to make any judgments on the science of fracking. His political life shows consistent bias toward boosting the interests of big business with no concern for the impact on workers. His writing provides no scientific evidence about the safety or otherwise of fracking. If he had evidence of safety he would not have to resort to slagging of at the greens and the environmentalists as generic baddies.My reading of this article makes me more suspicious that there are impacts that industry does not want the public to know about and costs that will only be understood after the early investors have make their millions and run.The petroleum industry has a history of making sure that the costs of damage are economic externalities which the taxpayer has to deal with.Sorry Peter I will trust independent and properly conducted science not a politically driven enquiry. If there is evidence of safety then fine frack ahead, but there is no urgency and the gas will still be there if safety is proven.

Reith quotes a respected and qualified scientist who supports the use of technology to exploit natural resources.However, I question why we accept the scientific finding of this particular academic practitioner when the findings of hundreds of scientists on climate change are dismissed as 'crap'.

Since when has Peter Reith become an expert on science?This article is further evidence of how the LNP is 'framing' the terms of debate, and cherry-picking information to suit pre-fabricated ends, whether it be at federal or state level. The most invidious thing under conservative governments is their abandonment of the 'precautionary principle' when it comes to weighing up environmental effects of potential developments.Their predominant way to achieve this is to put forward their own messages in favour of industry. Concurrently, the LNP limits the impact of oppositional voices, by silencing or degrading the opinions of environmental scientists or 'experts'. This is achieved by 'down-sizing' or shutting down relevant government agencies, which formerly provided information (monitoring, statistics etc.) in the name of eliminating red or green tape.The consequence is a lop-sided view, where only pro-industry views reach media reporting.The prime example, so far, at federal level, is the BCA heading up the commission of audit.

It's unfortunate that a supposedly 'fact-filled' article is mostly just opinions and not facts at all. Misrepresenting others views being just more of the same. People aren't as ignorant as you seem to want them to be. Fracking is DANGEROUS, and it's becoming increasingly evident from all the problems caused already in other nations that allowed the process. I oppose nuclear power too. Haven't you learnt any lessons yet from Fukushima, or perhaps you're in as much denial about the dangers as the Japanese government leaders are?The reason so few nations have banned fracking is because it's still relatively NEW! That's all. Invented in 1940s, but hardly used at all until the 1990s. It's not evidence of safety, and you're deliberately misrepresenting this reality.

To think that this man saw dogs as a way to represent his thoughts, now he would affect the earth upon which he must stand.Is he a lobbyist?

You see the problem we've got here. There are some people who think that we have an endless supply of resources (which patently isn't true). There are some people who think we have an endless capacity to solve any problem that confronts us (also patently untrue). And there are those that just don't care.

No.We have an endless capacity to TRY to solve any problem that confronts us.Its a problem only if you give up and whinge.

Scare campaign implies that fracking really isn't bad but some big group isn't making all this up to scare us. Who is making this up ? I see that drilling companies and oil companies are making money from doing and spending money trying to convince me it's safe. All the while refusing to stop doing it long enough for us to study the damage it may cause. They won't let us know what their putting in the chemicals they use. And despite the environmental damage they say can't be proven one thing is with out a doubt. They are WASTING millions upon Millions of gallons a water a day on each well. That reason alone is enough reason to stop them from drilling this way. Eventually we will be paying the same people for a bottle of water and they will be charging by the barrel prices just like they do with oil. Anyway check this out.........

Fracking is breaking the crust of the earth and that crust is what we live on. Do you think we can live on magma?

Peter Reith is blinded by ideology. He has no idea of EROEI and how diminishing energy returns are destroying economies.Population reduction is the single biggest thing we can do to help the environment and improve living standards. The pursuit of perpetual economic and population growth is the pathway to disaster.If the ABC would print articles from geologists and physicists, we would hear a different story completely.

Someone needs to tell Mr Reith that Australia already has an ample supply of natural gas without the need for csg mining, but I am sure he is aware of this, but he tells us a supply shortage is imminent if we don't fast track this mining technique without proof of environmental impacts, conservatism and big business at its finest.

If Reith is so sure, then have a very generous scheme to compensate the victims of fracking disasters.Because, if it is so safe, the geneous scheme will never have to pay out, right ?

So be it, the hip pocket talks again, any thing that causes financial gain is okay, live for today, tomorrow may never come and who cares really just as long as the dollar is there.

LOL, priceless - Peter Reith/Liberal Party complains about 'scare campaigns'.Yes Peter, you sure have seen a few baseless scare campaigns in your time. You had a hand in more than one yourself.What really disturbs me is that any government worth it's salt has appointed Peter Reith to run any kind of enquiry, let alone something with potentially irreversible dangerous outcomes. Any sensible person would know that you don't appoint ideological zealots to research facts and expect an objective, trustworthy report.Doesn't say much for sensible decision making.

Peter, Gas industry lobbyists are paid to take politicians out to lunch (at the very least) and get their side of the story across. Given your relationship with the LNP and the huge polictical donations made by gas participants, to suggest your opinion is unbiased is laughable. Further, even if fracking was safe, gas remains a fossil fuel and will only add to the dangerously high carbon dioxide emissions that threaten the planet. But I guess you don't care much about that either.

He outlines an economic situation where "the importance of exporting the gas" drives up the price in the domestic market, is this a hint at his true interests? Who operates these plants and where do these export profits go? That senario seems to give a hint of the outside influences, political and economic, driving us to exploit our resources. Notice how that goes unmentioned.What if it was clear in this debate that us fracking our landscape was in fact for the profit of multinational energy companies, who clearly already view Austalian manufacturing as expendable, and would happily see higher prices for domestic gas supplied to households.The subterfuge becomes palpable. Who owns you now Peter? Energy industry past or future.I would like you to name every chemical these guys pump into the ground, and explain to me their methods of waste management and despute resolution.Fracking to save our jobs? Bring me a wasteland and keep me a slave.

This opinion piece is what you get when you ask a former director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to write about a serious environmental issue facing our nation.But, I'm sure similar opinions were given in the 30's and 40's when concerns were raised over the safety of asbestos.

I feel much better knowing that someone such as Peter Reith has been given space to set the moral compass of the readers, so perhaps I shouldn't mention that depleted uranium instead of copper in the shaped charges creates a pressure of 600000 atmospheres as against 300000 for copper, it is much more effective in fracking and is cheaper to manufacture has an american patent and is looking for a new home now that Iraq and Afghanistan are winding down as repositories of this otherwise dangerous and unwanted filth, just the sort of stuff we should leach into the great artesian basin

Too much gas sold too cheaply to foreigners, leading to projected domestic shortages. Why can't we set aside enough for our own use?Reith expects us to buy his assurances, but his colleagues - the Abbott government - with their phoney direct action scheme show that they are prepared to take irresponsible risks with the environment. They don't respect the science, they don't even have a minister for science. They will ignore the climate report due to be released today because they don't really believe in it anyway. This is a do-nothing government, whose only conviction is to further enrich themselves and their rich backers. Abbott himself has had his snout in the public trough to the tune of $3m over the last couple of years alone. That is the example that he has set for his colleagues - no wonder he is not saying anything about it.

The proponents of gas extraction tell a number of happy tales about the way this will improve our lives. The facts are inconsistent with these fictions they promote. They claim anti-gas bodies are, and these are comments that have been levelled against sober, responsible contributing citizens such as myself - that we are drug addicts, ill-informed and unemployed layabouts. The facts are that there is a growing body of evidence that suggests, among other things, that fracking is something that should be approached with caution, if at all; that each well has individual characteristics - ie is an experiment in the making; that water contamination DOES occur in areas where fracking is actively pursued; that air pollution does occur in these areas; that livestock and farm activities are impaired and constrained; that the industry enters into 'confidentiality clauses' with successful claimants against the impacts of the industry to stifle the flow of information; that there are innumerable sound, environmental reasons not to do this (particularly in the face of Climate Change which my evil twin denies); that the increase in methane over well-fields is significantly higher than in similar no-drilled areas; that the prices of gas will rapidly escalate once Ms Rinehart gets her overseas port .... and the list goes on, and on, and on. If Mr Reith is soothed by a quick chat with a passing scientist - well maybe he is not fit for his position. Maybe he should read the ACOLA report published earlier this year which, despite being generally supportive of Australia's gas resources, nevertheless highlights the impacts that will need to be managed. Theoretically this industry is a safe industry. But it relies on human activity. Humans make mistakes (remember that concrete creek?). Mistakes can have catastrophic impacts on our very limited water resources. Mistakes are generally irreversible as once the toxin is in the supply it's kind of hard to get it out. What is more this is an industry based on careful representation of the truth. The same companies supplying fracking fluid to the American industry, supply our industry. The same issues of commercial confidentiality apply. Benzene IS being used in fracking wells IN AUSTRALIA. Time our politicians sat up and paid attention to the well-educated, well-informed people who are telling them this is NOT a good idea and will do endless harm to our childrens's futures.

Scare campaign? Does Mr Reith think this is the 1950's (oh, of course he does!!). Peter, we have the internet, we read what is happening in other countries. For example, in the old US of A, where they are finding the water left over after fracking is radioactive. Where they are finding everything is dying of cancer. Where there are towns who have to ship their water into town in trucks (and the govt meanwhile is pretending that the drinking water is safe when it's clearly not).How dare you have the audacity to call that a scare campaign you nasty little man. How dare you have the audacity to speak on behalf on mining companies who's only wish is to continue their rampage across our country with no regard for the life it sustains. Who the hell do you think you are, lying to the Australian public like this? If fracking is SO safe, I dare you to fly to the US, get yourself a glass of that lovely leftover water, and drink it on down mate. Then, once you are sick, tell us it's a scare campaign. You are an irresponsible, lecherous liar who does not deserve one more second in the public arena. You have proved time and time again that you cannot be trusted. Name your sources, name your sponsors, name your campaign contributors. You get one shot with the environment, or after all these years, is this something you still fail to understand. Don't sell off the future of this country for a quick buck.

What a bloody disgusting Globe: 71 percent water, 29 % land mass. 10 percent of the useful land mass is populated with 7.5 billion human beings, and the rest is under snow, permafrost and deserts. 30 millions of slaves and 4 millions of refugees.10 percent of the 7.5 billion world population are multimillionaires include perverted fat billionaires.It is all like a mega Manhattan as a drop in the oceans.The Dark age is on return with the speed of the light.It is due time to uneducate the greatest of the mega maniacs!

Anyone see Gasland, the film by Josh Fox?Gives a good descrption of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") and its potential hazards.To say that protests against fracking ventures are "scare campaigns" is ignorant at best and irresponsible, to put it nicely.

Peter Reith articles are awesome for their entertainment and our amusement.As usual the comments from everyone else provide the matter and content.I got to the third last paragraph and almost spat my Weetbix all over the table, Peter saved his best for the end. Lol Green Fracking it's still funny each time I read it. Roma is but one town on the fringe of the deep CSG reserves, try talking to the folk in Condamine, Kenya, Tara, Chinchilla, Kogan etc and they may have a slightly alternative version than Peter's.Good on ya Peter for reigniting the debate to keep it in the spotlight.

Yes, well, he would say that wouldn't he...I follow the fracking debate in the USA as well. It seemsthis means of mining is not as innocuous as portrayed. We all have the scientific data at hand these days, notmuch is missed.

Reith, the only "Fracking scare campaign" I see is being run by the CSG giants and NSW Energy Minister Chris Hartcher, who claimed that "unless we dramatically increase production of CSG, NSW will have to "import" its gas from other states." The reality is that eastern Australia is a single gas market, and that there are no import tariffs or restrictions between the states.

Coal seam gas is mostly methane. It is also a fossil fuel, and arguably just as non-renewable as coal and petroleum. One molecule of methane contains one atom of carbon and four atoms of hydrogen i.e. CH4."Green activists strongly oppose any fossil fuels even though gas has much lower emissions than brown coal."Is that true ?If you burn a kilogram of methane, you get about 55 Megajoules of heat energy and 2.75 kilograms of carbon dioxide i.e. CO2. By way of comparison, burning a kilogram of petrol yields about 46 Megajoules and 3 kilograms of CO2. Burning a kilogram of coal (anthracite) yields about 32 Megajoules and 3.6 kilograms of CO2. Burning (dewatered) brown coal yields less energy than anthracite, because brown coal contains more impurities. Thus, burning coal seam gas produces a little more energy and a little less of the greenhouse gas, CO2 than petroleum or coal. Burning coal seam gas still contributes to global warming.Carbon dioxide is routinely cited as the ?bad boy? of global warming. John Tyndall demonstrated this by experiment in the late 19th century. What about methane ? Again, Tyndall found that CH4 is a greenhouse gas. However, methane has subsequently been found to be about 20 times more potent than CO2, as a greenhouse gas. Methane leaking from CSG wells, surrounding soil, and bubbling up from rivers is not harmless.Coal seam gas is more damnation than salvation.

As far as I can see, it's all about more money for a select few, and too bad if it goes wrong for others. The few live somewhere else, insulated by distance, money and power from the consequences of their actions. How about we offer them: go ahead, but if it goes wrong-we strip you and yours of all assets and you go to jail for life? Still willing to take the risk?

" ... will have adverse repercussions for living standards and jobs"How long, exactly, does Peter Reith think any of us can enjoy any kind of living standard if we cannot drink the water??Politicians, past and present, need to get back to the real world where the laws of physics apply.I'm sick to death of the priority given - every time - to the economy and jobs. There won't be ANY jobs on a dead planet.

There are two contentious issues that you haven't addressed at all: one is the potential alteration in the levels of aquifers, which has no reliable answer for or against, and which can potentially degrade entire districts, not only the extraction sites. The other is the behaviour of some exploration license holders, who've brought police to enforce the rights conferred by their licenses over landowners, rather than engaging with those landowners and negotiating for mutual benefit. In NSW, the upper reaches of the Georges River are disappearing because of longwall coal mining below. The colliery operaters have attempted to grout the cracks in the riverbeds (under the terms of their contracts with the state, not at their own initiative), unsuccessfully. The damage remains unremediated and the the fear of similar unrepairable vandalism is not satisfied by frackers' assurances. You note that frackers are turning to something that they term "green fracking", and which you term an "innovation" on their part, without detailing it's necessity or benefit. Would you be reassured by this on your own part?

Investment,, investment. It is a pity that someone like Peter Reith can't get out of the bubble he lives in. There are other things more important than profit.

Peter, what threatens our prosperity is the refusal of the rich and entrenched to share anything or entertain better ideas. They'll look after their own prosperity sure, but we're concerned about everyone's prosperity. Your lot are in bed with the rich, who control everything with their money, but it's not helping anyone in need, only those in greed. If we can't grow food, drink the water or breath the air all your money is worth nothing.

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