IN A move that won the praise of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA), resources minister Josh Frydenberg has promised to provide additional funding for community driven research and engagement.
If re-elected, the Liberal government will provide $4 million for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to undertake further research and to engage with the community using the Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA) model.
This will build on the work that GISERA has already done in Queensland and New South Wales, delivering research to address the potential social, economic and environmental challenges and opportunities of the coal seam gas industry.
“In particular, GISERA will conduct new research into surface and groundwater, agricultural land management, biodiversity and socioeconomic impacts and opportunities,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“Legitimate concerns have been raised in the broader community about unconventional gas extraction, particularly the impacts on water and prime agricultural land…The Turnbull government is committed to better informing the community through science and research.”
Importantly, GISERA ensures key stakeholders are central to this research by utilising regional advisory committees, including representatives from agriculture, local communities, business, state government, CSIRO and industry.
APPEA chief executive Malcolm Roberts welcomed the announcement, saying GISERA provided vital information to communities, governments and industry.
“Vital gas development brings many challenges but none that can’t be overcome with appropriate regulation and transparent community engagement,” he said.
“As an industry we must do more to inform Australians about the work we do, our safe record and the benefits being experienced by regional communities.”
Mr Frydenberg also committed to allocating almost $700,000 to the Northern Australia CO2 store project at APPEA.