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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The 'FUA' are awarded to - watch this space

Instead of giving taxpayer spin, distortions and utter bullshit policy decisions (such as privatising this asset or that asset), we – yes you and me – need to use questioning techniques to demand coherent reasoning.

Let us stop allowing once and forever this bombastic self-congratulatory

I know better than you approach so favored by current this crop of elected politicians including but not limited to:

Scott Morrison, Mitch Fifield, Josh Frydenberg, Barnaby Joyce, Michaelia Cash, Mathias Corman, Christopher Pyne, George Brandis, Julie Bishop, Tony Abbott
and force stimulate and guide their thinking.

These could include:
• Reasons: What are your reasons for making that decision?
• Evidence: Can you convince me that is the best decision?
• Argument: What would someone who disagreed with you say?
• Impact on others: Will your decision affect anybody else?
• Consequences: What might happen next?
• Benefit: What are the measurable benefits? – no guesstimates
• Evidence: Detail the actual research and data that was used to formulate this policy recommendation
• Lobbyist: Recommendations and submissions are not to be in any way allowed to guide shape or suggest policy

Even though the Australian Energy Market Regulator says there is now no supply gap in NSW and demand for gas will fall 17 per cent by 2019, the CSG industry is preparing to step up its efforts, arguing that the issue is now one of “energy security” for NSW .

Numerous government decisions will be taken in coming months that will either constrain the CSG industry or allow it to expand. There’s currently a freeze on new exploration licences that will be replaced with a strategic release framework, new codes and conditions are being finalised, and CSG will soon be regulated by the Environment Protection Agency.

The NSW government also plans to have a “use it or lose it” regime for licences. It has decided not to appeal against an overturning of its suspension of Metgasco’s gas drilling licence near LIsmore.

Assisting the industry are an army of former political staff and former politicians, many of whom had a role in the regulation of the industry before jumping the fence to industry.

A few have come back the other way, moving from senior jobs in the major gas companies to senior advising roles in ministers offices.

The accompanying graphic reveals the extent of cross pollination between those who set policy at a state and federal level in the coal seam gas industry and those who seek to profit from it – as direct participants or as advocates for the companies.

Green’s MP Jeremy Buckingham says the revolving door between politics and the mining sector has utterly undermined the community’s faith in our ability to regulate mining and CSG.

CSG industry hires well-connected staffers http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/csg-industry-hires-wellconnected-staffers…

“It’s very concerning to see a decision maker who helped to create the industry now spruiking it,” he says.

“The community feel that often it’s just a foregone conclusion and that the government is paying lip service to regulation”.

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration, the coal seam gas industry body, declined to comment when contacted by Fairfax Media.

Often politicians and political staffers jump directly into a role that involves them advocating for the companies, unrestrained by rules that are designed to provide cooling off periods between politics and business.

For instance Martin Ferguson, the former Labor resources minister, became chairman of the advisory committee for the peak oil and gas industry association, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, six months after leaving politics.

He has been a fierce advocate of CSG, arguing that NSW must forge ahead with development of CSG in order to achieve “energy security for NSW.”

His colleagues, Greg Combet, the former Gillard government minister for Climate change and Craig Emerson, her minister for Trade, waited a year before penning an opinion article in support of the CSG industry in the Australian Financial Review.

They are both working as economic consultants to AGL and Santos, the two biggest players in CSG in NSW.

Former National party leaders, John Anderson and Mark Vaile also moved into high profile roles in mining and CSG companies after politics.

John Anderson became chairman of Eastern Star Gas, the company behind the Narrabri Gas project about two years after leaving politics. The company was taken over in 2011 by Santos and Anderson made an estimated $9 million out the deal.

Mark Vaile became a director and then chairman of Whitehaven coal, the company behind one of the state’s most controversial mines at Maules Creek. He is regularly seen in the corridors of Macquarie Street.

There are state and federal rules that impose cooling off periods for politicians and senior bureaucrats who move government to lobbying, but the act of lobbying is defined very narrowly to prevent only “gun for hire” third party lobbying.

This leaves politicians free to take jobs at industry associations and in business. In NSW minister must seek advice from the ethics adviser before taking private sector jobs.

The most high profile shift between politics and the mining industry has been Stephen Galilee, who is the former chief of staff for then Treasurer, Mike Baird.

Galilee moved soon in late 2011 to become chief executive of the NSW Minerals Council. A spokesman for the council said it does not lobby on the gas industry – it leaves that to APPEA – but it is intimately involved in all things mining including the planning and environmental regimes.

As an advocate for an “an association or organisation constituted to represent the interests of its members” – Galilee was free to move from advising the government one month to representing the industry the next.

Those who encounter Galilee say he is very professional in the way he deals with politicians who once would have sought his counsel. But there are a myriad of informal relationships that are less obvious to those being lobbied and to the public at large. These long standing personal relationships work to ensure a company can pick up the phone to a politician or adviser in the office if there is an issue at hand or a meeting is needed.

Take for example, AGL Energy, one of the two biggest players in CSG in NSW.

AGL tends to favour in-house representation in its dealings with politicians.

The current head of government relations is Lisa Harrington, who was until 2013 a senior adviser to Mike Baird. She replaced Sarah Macnamara at AGL, who went back to work in the Prime Minister’s office with her old colleague Peta Credlin whom she knew from her days in Communications minister, Helen Coonan’s office.

Macnamara was Abbott’s policy adviser on resources for a year and is now chief of staff to the federal minister for industry (and resources) Ian Macfarlane.

Shaughn Morgan, AGL’s manager of Government and external affairs, has similarly impressive credentials on the Labor side. He was an adviser to NSW Attorney General Jeff Shaw in the 1990s and worked with Adam Searle, now Labor’s NSW resources spokesman.

Morgan also has connections with another important constituency for the CSG industry – farmers – having been CEO of the NSW Farmers’ Federation for four years.

And Senator Coonan is still not far from the action. The firm she co-chairs with former Labor minister, John Dawkins, GRA Cosway is listed on the Liberal Party Labor Party
National Party Mining sector Bureaucrats Other

CSG industry hires well-connected staffers http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/csg-industry-hires-wellconnected-staffers…

Federal register of lobbyists for AGL.

 

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