Gas chief airs concerns on Lazarus' CSG bias before inquiry

THE head of Australia's gas body is concerned Senator Glenn Lazarus has already decided he does not approve of coal seam gas ahead of a senate inquiry he will chair this week.

Sen Lazarus will chair the Senate Committee into Unconventional Gas Mining starting in Dalby on Wednesday.

Helen Bender, the daughter of Chinchilla farmer George Bender who committed suicide following years of battling coal seam gas companies, will be one of the first witnesses the inquiry will hear from.

But Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association chief Dr Malcolm Roberts said recent comments from Mr Lazarus about CSG concerned his impartiality.

Mr Lazarus last week told Fairfax Media NSW residents should "fight to absolute hell this scourge on society" when asked about CSG.

Dr Roberts said he was worried the inquiry would not give a fair hearing to all parties.

"Senator Lazarus has said the inquiry wasn't to be a witch hunt but he's been making some comments since then that are worrying," he said.

"I'd be worried about what the taxpayer dollar is being spent on. But we'll reserve judgment until we see how this inquiry will be conducted."

A representative for Sen Lazarus said he wanted to hear from residents who had dealt with CSG companies.

"Senator Lazarus is wanting residents to have their concerns heard in the inquiry, as well as fighting for the landowners right to say no to mining companies coming onto their land," she said.

Sen Lazarus on Sunday shared a video on Facebook allegedly showing methane from coal seam gas operations leaking into the Condamine River.

"Farmers and landholders across the region are losing underground water (bores are drying up) and what water is left is being contaminated. Our people are being poisoned," he said.

Despite his concerns, Dr Roberts said he was "approaching the inquiry in good faith" and looking forward to a "report based on facts".

- APN NEWSDESK



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