Trump has lessons for industry: expert

VETERAN CSG expert Don McMillan says activists holding sway with Northern Territory Labor, which promises a frac moratorium, proves industry has failed to connect with the ‘Average Joe', even as Chief Minister Adam Giles stepped up his attack on his opponent yesterday.
Trump has lessons for industry: expert Trump has lessons for industry: expert Trump has lessons for industry: expert Trump has lessons for industry: expert Trump has lessons for industry: expert

Commenting on our story yesterday, Compromise sought in NT frac debate, Brisbane-based McMillan told Energy News said the industry could take a leaf out of the books of both left-leaning activists and polarising right-wing figures like Alan Jones and Donald Trump in their effectiveness in connecting with grass roots.

"The petroleum industry leaders, like the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, have been in the forefront of the debate and their efforts have not prevented us losing the argument in Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales," said McMillan, who runs his own consultancy for valuations, reservoir and petroleum engineering and teaches CSG courses.

"Based on results, their strategy has been ineffective and yet I have not witnessed any willingness to change. Therefore, I don't expect a different result in the Northern Territory.

"I challenge anyone to review the anti-fraccing and pro-fraccing media strategies to understand why our adversaries are so successful. The anti-fraccing websites are full of emotion, belief and commitment though void of science and their media interviews are the same but with the added flavour of being the ‘underdog'.

"We present ourselves ‘dry' to the point we give the impression we're hiding something.

"When I speak to my family and friends in NSW I often ask them to name the leaders of anti-fraccing movement. They recite names like Alan Jones, Drew Hutton etcetera. Conversely, their response is either ‘I don't know' - or worse, there is none."

McMillan said that unless the industry leaders change the way they present our case, the community and environment will be the losers.

"The environment will be the loser as natural gas is the most effective method in reducing emissions with the added bonus of improving the communities' standard of living," he said.

"Solar and windfarms rely on coal for backup and require subsidies which disadvantage the poor.

"We are the ones that need to change. Failure is our fault. If we choose to be on the winning team we need look at why the likes of Alan Jones, Donald Trump etcetera are so effective. Change is hard."

Attack mode

Gerry McCarthy, NT Labor's shadow minister for employment and training, science and innovation and environment, among other things, told the Territory's parliament on Tuesday: "Territory Labor proposes a moratorium covering all unconventional gas prospecting, exploration and extraction activities."

This prompted another wave of criticism from Giles, who said Labor's policy to stop production from unconventional wells will put people out of work, open up the NT for millions in compensation and, "most importantly and alarmingly", rob Alice Springs and Tennant Creek of gas to generate electricity.

Giles said gas from Central Petroleum's Dingo wells was powering the turbines that were suppling Alice Springs with electricity, as are wells in the Mereenie and Palm Valley fields.

"These unconventional wells have been fracced and gas is being extracted as it has been since the 1960s. This will stop under Labor," Giles said.

"We know this production ban is Labor policy because it passed a motion at its annual conference this year putting the ban in place.

"Yet, why has Michael Gunner been silent on the issue? The opposition leader needs to come clean and explain to the people of Alice Springs why he wants to put their lights out. No gas means no electricity means no lights."

Giles said unconventional gas from Central Australia was also an important back-up gas supply for electricity generation in Darwin.

"When gas supply from Blacktip was disrupted and shut down generators were powering Darwin, we looked to Central Australian gas as a back-up fuel source for Channel Island. This won't be happening under Labor's ban," he said.

"Labor's ban will also push up electricity costs by limiting the supply of gas for generation - pushing up power prices as the increased costs are passed on to consumers.

"Labor is a threat to jobs, lifestyle and progress in the Territory. Now Michael Gunner is threatening a basic commodity our society needs to function - electricity."