Owen Jacques |
30th May 2013 4:00 PM
IF EVER there was a flashing neon sign demanding the attention of anti-gas activists Lock the Gate, it was the APPEA energy conference held in Brisbane this week.
But the recognisable yellow triangle of the group was nowhere to be seen.
More than 3000 delegates from the world’s most powerful gas companies – including a who’s who list of coal seam gas developers – listened intently to keynote speeches on handling opposition, new technologies and government regulation.
The expectation of protestors was enough that Queensland police had a strong presence at the four-day event, although police do not officially discuss “operational matters”.
Lock the Gate Darling Downs co-ordinator Shaun Murray said the group would have loved to have flown their flag at the event, but were too busy.
Too busy for the Southern Hemisphere’s largest gas conference?
“Contrary to the ridiculous claims made by (Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff) Seeney that we were well-funded and organised, it’s clearly not the case,” Mr Murray said.
“We’re certainly not well funded.”
The conference came a week after protesters converged on the south-west Queensland town of Tara, clashing with gas industry workers.
Could APPEA have been the next stop?
“That could have been a possibility but we’re a social movement where people are giving up their own time to go and take action,” he said.
“Had we had more time and capacity I would have liked to see some more public response and presence.”
Even without an appearance, many of the major event speakers – resource ministers both state and federal, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney and gas company executives – all warned about the threat of “radical green” groups.
Many shared the message that it was time for the industry to start confronting the claims made by Lock the Gate and others.
Mr Murray said industry may have access to spin doctors but with the Australian Medical Association calling for health checks on CSG projects, it had “real doctors” on its side.