Public outcry after Four Corners slams Qld's CSG industry
AFTER years of fighting to win over deeply sceptical public opinion, any small victories for the gas industry were wiped out as it came under fire from all sides.
In the aftermath of a shattering investigation by ABC's Four Corners program suggesting multi-billion-dollar coal seam gas projects were given state approval without proper environmental examination, every opponent appeared to land their blows.
The investigation featured public servant whistleblower Simone Marsh who made claims of a rushed and seemingly shoddy approval process for giant gas projects in Central Queensland.
Her allegations were backed by 900 pages of confidential Queensland Government documents released through Right to Information requests.
The claims were referred to the Crime and Misconduct Commission in February - it was still assessing whether to investigate.
The CSG industry has long described its projects as environmentally sound, economically valuable and subject to stringent regulations.
Federal Greens Leader Christine Milne used the revelations to lay blame both on the State and Federal governments for seeing dollar signs when she said they should have been seeing destruction.
Although approvals were given under the former Bligh Labor government in 2010, Ms Milne told APN she was absolutely sure water and environmental concerns were being sacrificed by Queensland's LNP government desire to increase revenue.
The claim was denied by State Development Minister Jeff Seeney's office on Tuesday.
Ms Milne also called for a moratorium on CSG exploration and development until there was scientific evidence showing it could be done safely.
She praised Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke's creation of a "water trigger" that put more regulations on the gas industry, but said it must now be applied retrospectively to all existing projects.
Mr Burke said questions on CSG were an issue for Queensland but would not comment on whether his department felt they were up to standard.
In June last year, he accused Queensland's Coordinator General of not dealing with major environmental issues when approving the $10 billion GVK Hancock Alpha coal project.
A spokesman for Mr Seeney said the Newman Government's Gasfields Commission - an independent body overseeing the CSG industry - ensured proper scrutiny.
Despite Coordinator General Barry Broe approving more projects in 2012 than any of his predecessors, the spokesman said this was a result of streamlining , not cutting corners.
For those projects already approved, independent third-party audits were regularly completed. All of these must also supply proof they were abiding by environmental regulations.
The Queensland Government would not comment on claims made in the Four Corners report while the issue was being assessed by the CMC.