It is significant not least for more than four million gas customers in eastern Australia, including some 100,000 commercial and industrial businesses, and most importantly in economic terms for manufacturers who employ many of a million Australians working in factories.
That we should be at the present pass in the most populous states (New South Wales and Victoria) – whose ability to manage the issue could at best be described as dispiriting – says very little good about government skills. That some governments overseas also have a miserable record is no comfort.
While acknowledging legitimate public concerns about the impact CSG and fracking could have on human health and the environment, Simmons points out that the long list anti-development activists have produced about things that could go wrong is “both unhelpful and unscientific”.
He adds that the list articulates many possibilities, but says nothing about probabilities. “We need to be much more quantitative and scientific about this contentious discussion,” he declares.