Research by The Australia Institute examines the fundamental conflict of interest that underlies the Gas Industry Social and Environmental Alliance (GISERA), making it an inappropriate organisation to undertake research to evaluate the social and environmental impacts of unconventional gas development.
Key points include:
- GISERA is an alliance between the five largest unconventional gas companies operating in Australia (Australia Pacific LNG, Origin Energy, QGC, AGL and Santos) and the CSIRO. All of these companies have a clear vested interest in the outcomes of GISERA research.
- Over half of GISERA’s funding comes from the gas industry.
- Gas industry executives sit on all GISERA’s research management committees.
- GISERA’s conflict of interest policy does not address the organisation’s underlying conflict of interest inherent in its membership, funding and structure.
- GISERA consistently fails to identify gas industry involvement in GISERA funding and research, instead referring only to the CSIRO which is one of five partners in the alliance.
- It would be a simple matter for the government to levy the gas industry for the cost of this kind of research and distribute it to universities and other research organisations that are not dependent on gas industry funding or allow gas industry executives to oversee the research.
“The Northern Territory Government should not be handing taxpayers’ money to the gas industry to do research. These are huge multinational companies that can afford to pay for their own research,” says Mark Ogge, Principal Adviser at The Australia Institute.
“It would be a simple matter for a levy to be placed on the industry and the money distributed to any number of highly qualified independent researchers at Australian universities who are not funded directly by the gas industry.
“The community wouldn’t accept governments relying on the tobacco industry funded research into the health impacts of smoking, or asbestos industry funded research into the impacts of asbestos. So why does the Government rely on research into fracking funded by the fracking industry?
“There is a fundamental conflict of interest at the heart of GISERA. It is an alliance between the five largest unconventional gas companies in Australia and the CSIRO. These companies have the potential to earn billions of dollars if their projects being allowed to proceed.”