Voters will lay blame on O'Farrell for shortage: Macfarlane

Ian Macfarlane
Ian Macfarlane Kevin Farmer

WHEN supplies of gas dwindle for Sydney, the New South Wales government must be prepared for the mother of all 'I told you so's if the Coalition lands power in September.

Labelling parts of north-west NSW as "goanna country", Opposition resources spokesman Ian Macfarlane said by 2016, Premier Barry O'Farrell would have to tell his voters why they were out of gas.

Or if it was available, why they could not afford it.

At a gas conference in Brisbane on Monday, Mr Macfarlane was asked what the Federal Government could do to push NSW to build its coal seam gas industry.

NSW has strong state regulation restriction the extraction of coal seam gas in line with long-standing community opposition.

"The pressure we can put on is to make sure the O'Farrell government understands that it's likely to be in power when Sydney runs out of gas," Mr Macfarlane said.

"Gas is either going to get so expensive that some users will stop using it, the price will make it uneconomical or there might not be enough to go around."

One solution is for ExxonMobil to pipe gas into Sydney but it too would be pricey.

"I guess our message to NSW and I've been saying this myself - and (Opposition Leader Tony Abbott) is aware of the problem - they must find a solution.

"They must get this gas developed and they must have the political courage to build a pipeline to get it into the network."

As Queensland gas developments powered ahead, NSW's industry has languished as communities united against the encroachment of energy companies into north-west parts of the state.

At the end of 2012, Queensland employed 27,000 in its gas industry and had allowed about 4000 gas wells to operate.

NSW employed less than 500 and about 250 wells were operating.

Mr Macfarlane said unlike in Queensland, the gas reserves were not affecting farms.

"It's almost goanna country. It looks like goanna country to me," he said of the Pilliga region in the state.

"We can stand there in 2016 and say we told you so and we told you so in 2010.

"That was a little while ago and nothing has happened.

"They better get busy. They're facing an enormous crisis."

NSW resources minister Chris Hartcher will address the APPEA conference on Wednesday.

Topics:  barry o'farrell coal seam gas csg environment ian macfarlane nsw government resources

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