Writing in Crikey yesterday, Ben Law gave readers a fabulous sense of the colour and movement at the LNP launch. The concerned voter, or tired journalist, has somewhat of a less pleasurable experience in navigating the LNP’s website, where, counter-intuitively, the various statements are arranged from one to 71 (at the time of writing) in reverse chronological order.

Mining these seams for CSG policy is quite the task. One has to read past such momentous announcements as “respecting our Anzac two-up heritage”.

But, so it goes. The big-ticket announcement from yesterday’s policy launch was a “royalties for regions” pledge, modelled (I assume) on the strategy of the Western Australian Nationals in 2008’s state election.

Most won’t read beyond the headlines, or research the policy detail. That’s not to say that there isn’t detail on many policy areas relating to coal seam gas and land use. The party’s resources and energy strategy, for instance, runs to 59 pages.

As election day approaches, FAQ Research will be analysing all these policies. That’s going to be an interesting task, because some (for instance, the policy proposing strategic regional plans for land use, this time gesturing to the O’Farrell government in NSW) make for quick reading.

Such is often the way in election campaigns. Sadly, the “royalties for regions” pledge is a “summary” of a policy, short on detail and long on attacks on the ALP. You can read it here, and it’s summarised here, but it states:

“The LNP believes all Queenslanders should benefit from our valuable resource royalties.

“We will ensure in particular that the Queensland regions that host major resource developments receive real, long-term royalty benefits through better planning and targeted infrastructure investment.

“An LNP government will invest in three key Royalties for the Regions initiatives to benefit communities in resource regions — our Resource Community Building Fund, our Roads to Resources program and our Floodplain Security investment scheme.”

All this raises a number of questions, which I’ll throw out there rather than answer.

First, is there a contradiction between returning benefit to the whole state and paying particular attention to regional communities? Secondly, how does this announcement cohere with other announcements about the impact of mining and CSG extraction on such communities (for instance, Protecting the Scenic Rim)? Thirdly, to what degree does the suggestion that mining companies pay their planned social responsibility funds into a Newman government fund impact on or obviate the social licence activities of these companies?

Peter Fray

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