Voices from the Queensland Gaslands

A series of short videos on life in the gaslands of Queensland made for Lock the Gate in 2014/15.

Voices from the Gaslands – George’s story

Landholders across Queensland are facing an invasive force as coal seam gas companies move onto their land. The landholders, many of whom have worked their properties for generations, are being forced to accept life in a gas field. The impact is huge and is taking its toll in a myriad of different ways. This is the story of George Bender a cotton farmer who fought the gas companies for years before taking tragically taking his own life in 2015.

 Voices form the Gaslands – Megan’s story

The coal seam gas companies and the Australian and state governments tell us that all is fine in Queensland and farmers are happy with the way the unconventional gas industry is taking over farmland and rural communities. But it doesn’t take long to scratch the surface and find farmers whose experience of coal seam gas companies is harrowing. These farmers tell a story of bullying by the gas companies, of gates left open, stock disturbed, rubbish left lying around and worst of all of water bores that are dropping at unprecedented rates. Rural Queensland is fighting a battle against an invasion that threatens land, water and community. This series of stories describes the flip side of the CSG industry and provides a cautionary tale for other communities who may be under threat from miners who consider it their right to take over farmland, communities and water resources.

Voices from the Gaslands – Greg & Joanne’s story

Greg and Joanne Vine battled gas giant Santos for nearly two years over the company’s push to lay a second pipeline through the Vine’s property in south-west Queensland. The couple were worried about the weeds a trencher and vehicles would bring to their property as the machinery would have been in areas of pathenium infestation, a toxic plant that impacts heavily on pastoral production. Despite repeated requests the company was unable to provide the Vines with adequate documentation to prove the trencher was weed free. The Vines locked their gates in an attempt to keep the trencher off their land and protect their pasture to plate business but they were threatened with arrest and had their locked gates cut. Their fight with Santos has taken a heavy toll.

Voices from the Gaslands – Shirley’s story

Shirley Gilligan’s family have farmed Little Hollow and Bibimbi since 1905. She has lived all her life on the properties and now with her husband Brian runs beef cattle on Bibimbi and uses Little Hallow, where she was born, as a farm stay business. But the gas companies are moving in on the district and the Gilligan’s properties are being surrounded by gas wells. The couple have to locked their gates to the gas and coal companies but the pressure from gas giant Origin to get access to the Gilligan’s river paddocks is increasing. The Gilligans have built a successful small business based on a farm stay at Little Hallow and have left around 500ha uncleared so that their high country remains a wilderness area and wildlife refuge. People have been coming from around the world to stay at the rustic homestead, observe the bird life and experience the beginning of the outback but since the gas companies ramped up their exploration and mining in the Chinchilla district tourism has died and the Gilligans are feeling the impact. Their wildness area is under threat from gas mining. Their modest home and dam are also in the eye of the miners and the very land under their house has been pegged for coal mining. The couple have been told their home will be bulldozed if the coal mining company decides to move in. It is not what Brian and Shirley had intended for their retirement.

Voices from the Gaslands – Bob’s story

When the gas industry came knocking on Bob Nixon’s farm gate wanting to drill five exploration wells on his stud farm they gave him no option but to sign a contract threatening court if he objected to their demands. Bob is not happy with the way the gas industry operates and the way it bullies farmers into signing access agreements. He fears that csg mining will contaminate his water and leave the property he has worked for over 40 years dry. He says the added stress of gas mining is a burden that farmers already in drought should not have to bare.

Voices from the Gaslands – the Jenkyns

Life in a gas field can be a living hell. This family bought a bush block and established a home in what they thought would be a quiet rural setting. Their two children have cerebral palsy and the mother has had cancer and other health issues. They needed a peaceful place to rest, recover and reach their full potential. But within a few years of moving to their rural retreat their home life was shattered. The coal seam gas industry moved into the area and have surrounded this family. Nights are dominated by noise from the industrial facilities and keep the youngest member of the family, who suffers from quadriplegic cerebral palsy, awake for hours every night. His body needs rest but the nearby gas compressor station and constant truck movements are taking their toll. The family are suffering but while QGC has quietly bought out others in the area, making each sign a confidentiality agreement so they remain silent about the impact on their health, the company is refusing to give this family the opportunity to get out of the gas field. They are stuck in a home they can no longer enjoy and the invasive gas industry is about to move in even closer with more wells planned just metres from their modest dwelling.

Voices form the Gaslands – Neil’s story

In 2009 QGC bulldozed part of an ancient cultural heritage site to put in a coal seam gas well.
The site was well documented and had been described by Archeologists as being thousands of years old. It was an unusual and well preserved Bora Ring that was highly regarded by members of the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. The landholder had fenced the site off to stop cattle from trampling the unique stone arrangements. Traditional custodian Neil Stanley was a regular visitor to the site and looked after the special place. But QGC moved in on the site, cleared a swathe of land and drilled a gas well in the middle of the culturally significant Bora Ring. Neil Stanley describes the destruction as being like drilling a gas well in the centre of the Vatican. The destruction illustrates how not even a well documented culturally significant site is off limits to the gas companies in their quest to extract every whiff of coal seam gas from Queensland.