Greens member for Ballina Tamara Smith. Picture by Luke Marsden.
Greens member for Ballina Tamara Smith. Picture by Luke Marsden.

CSIRO report isn’t green light for CSG industry: Ballina MP

BALLINA MP Tamara Smith has rejected a CSIRO report that concluded there was little to no impact in the air, water and soil at six fracking wells in Queensland.

Ms Smith said the document should not be used to give the green light for hydraulic fracking.

"It's one report, for one operator, at one gas field," she said.

"But it's really important that this report isn't seen as a green light for the CSG industry, and that these measures of contamination are not seen as the only environmental impacts.

"There is also no social licence for CSG mining in the Northern Rivers," she said.

Ms Smith's historic victory at the 2015 state election was the first time The Greens had taken a seat from the National Party, and gave The Greens their first regional seat in the lower house of the NSW Parliament.

She was part of the legal team who supported the grassroots movement against CSG on the Northern Rivers and declared her election win a "referendum on coal seam gas mining".

The MP said it was widely accepted in the scientific community that bias may occur when industry bodies fund research (sponsorship or funding outcome bias).

"Origin contributed 74 per cent of the funding for this project," she said.

"It is good to see that clearly declared in the online report, although the magnitude of the funding contribution should be more clearly stated in the four-page short report and mentioned in the minister's press release.

"Of more concern is the contribution of Origin to sample site selection and sample collection."

Ms Smith said she agreed with the idea of inviting GISERA (the CSIRO's Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance) to the Northern Rivers to discuss the report.

GISERA, the author of the study, includes federal and state governments, plus gas companies.

"It's always valuable to get the data from the source, and to be able to discuss the findings with the researchers," Ms Smith said.

"Any discussion must be open, independently facilitated and allow enough time for the community to have their questions answered, with prior access to the study methods and data, and the opportunity for questions to be taken on notice," she said.

"The community here are well informed and highly engaged - they deserve the opportunity to interrogate both the data and the authors of the report given the long-term implications for communities and the environment.

Ms Smith said she would consider inviting CSIRO researchers here to explain their research.

"They should attend with GISERA," she added.

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