Briefing paper

Foot off the gas: how a gas-led recovery will impact Australian farmers

Groundwater Coal seam gas Farming Agriculture Energy resources Environmental impacts Natural gas Australia

The Morrison Government announced late in September 2020 that Australia’s strategy to deal with the economic impacts of COVID-19 would be a 'gas-led recovery.'

This strategy asserts that increasing gas production (by opening new basins and building more gas-burning power stations) and creating a transparent market will make Australian energy cheaper and more readily available. It is hoped this will aid in economic recovery at both the primary (e.g. use in manufacturing and industry) and secondary levels by driving gas prices down for consumers.

The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) has pushed back on this plan, noting that farmers need to be in control of their land to in order to be effective stewards.

This briefing paper categorises the potential impacts of gas production on agriculture (as highlighted by the Narrabri Gas Project) into sections on natural capital (including environmental and sustainability issues), economic (e.g., the financial opportunities and risks to farmers and associated regional communities) and social impacts (such as community fragmentation or cohesion and mental health). These categories are addressed at a national level. This paper also provides maps of petroleum exploration licence (PEL) areas in Australia overlaid on the Great Artesian Basin and on the country’s primary agricultural activities (grazing, cropping and irrigated agriculture), highlighting regions where these intersect (see Section 3.5).

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