New gas rules will push prices up: unions

Unions and industry have attacked The NSW Government’s decision to ban all coal seam gas activity, saying it will push up the cost of doing business in the state.

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell said the new rules meant suburbs, country towns, and other urban areas would become “no-go zones for CSG activities”.

Australian Workers' Union national secretary Paul Howes said: "Barry O'Farrell's failure to tackle the looming gas crisis will push the cost of doing business in NSW up dramatically."

"The NSW government's decision to restrict the extraction of coal-seam gas will mean significant supplies of gas will stay locked up and out of reach for NSW consumers," Howes said.

"It's time for Barry O'Farrell to stop grandstanding and start governing on this critical issue."

Major CSG companies Santos and AGL said the decision would block billions of dollars of investment plans, cause a rise in electricity prices and make Australia and unattractive place for investment, The Australian reported.

The companies, joined by the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, want a meeting with O’Farrell.

"This announcement doesn't change the fact that NSW needs new supplies of natural gas," a company spokesman for Santos said.

"These new proposals could put at risk new sources of energy for the people of NSW."

AGL Energy said without new sources, gas and electricity prices were set to rise in NSW.

O’Farrell was unmoved by the protests, saying businesses were "like children who need boundaries" set for them.

 As part of the changes the Environmental Protection Authority will be appointed as the lead regulator for the health and environmental impacts of the state’s industry.

A new Office of Coal Seam Gas Regulation will also be established, and chief scientist and engineer Mary O’Kane will undertake a review of the industry and report on any risks by July.


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