Short-sighted Lake Eyre Basin decision threatens investment and energy supply

  • Posted 22 December, 2023
  • Media Releases

22 December 2023

The Queensland Government’s decision to ban future expansion of all oil and gas projects in the Lake Eyre Basin floodplains is another blow to the future of the state’s resources sector, the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) said today.

QRC Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said the proposed new regulations were unnecessary and threaten Queensland’s future capacity to ensure Australia’s domestic gas supply.

It’s also unclear how this decision will impact the growth of Queensland’s critical minerals sector, despite government assurances that it won’t.

“Queensland already has strict environmental regulations in place to manage project applications and the industry has shown that it can work cooperatively in the Basin to maintain highest standards to protect the environment,” he said.

“Resources projects that do not stack up environmentally do not progress further, which is how it should be.

“”The resources sector has been engaging in good faith with the State Government and other stakeholders, so it is extremely disappointing not to see a balanced outcome.

“Earlier this week, the Premier highlighted the importance of gas to Queensland and for the transition to a lower emissions future.

“Four days later, on the last working day before the Christmas break, the Government has stopped the future development of the industry in its tracks by banning gas exploration in some of the most prospective gas areas in Queensland,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“The Queensland gas industry has developed alongside agriculture and other regional industries over the past six decades, supporting regional communities and providing a benefit to all Queenslanders.

“There is no reason why the gas industry can’t continue along the same regulated and sustainable path that provides new opportunities for the communities of South West Queensland.

“Other stakeholders including local government, small businesses and Traditional Owners have stated that they want to benefit from developing the gas and resources sector in their region.

“The QRC made it very clear in our submission to the government that our industry will comply with any guidelines developed for the environment management of flood plain areas because we understand any development must be sustainable and benefit all stakeholders.”

Mr Macfarlane said there was no need to introduce another barrier to investment in new resources projects in Queensland.

“Today’s announcement also fails to consider the social and economic impact of blocking further expansion of Australia’s gas reserves,” he said.

“Reports this week indicate Australia’s East Coast is facing another gas shortage over the next few years and will rely on Queensland producers to ensure supply to millions of homes and businesses.

“Less supply means higher gas prices for Australians already struggling with cost-of-living pressures.

“Unless governments are prepared to allow, and support, new gas projects to be developed, not only will energy prices continue to climb but southern states are going to run out of gas.”

“This decision will only create more policy uncertainty for the resources sector and make it less likely that new investments will be made.,” Mr Macfarlane said.

Mr Macfarlane said the decision to seriously restrict oil and gas extraction in the Lake Eyre Basin will have a profound impact on local communities like Quilpie, Longreach, and the Barcoo and Booloo Shires which rely heavily on the jobs, business opportunities and economic contributions provided by companies currently operating in the region.

“I sympathise with local mayors and businesses who were relying on a more balanced and evidence-based approach to supporting development in the region,” he said.

Media Contact: Matt Dunstan – [email protected]