Coal seam gas extraction and the politics of resource wealth redistribution in rural and remote Australia: beyond staples dependence and ‘Quarry Australia’?

Authors: Neil Argent*, University of New England
Topics: Resources, Rural Geography, Australia and New Zealand
Keywords: coal seam gas, staples theory, royalty regimes, Australia
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Grand Ballroom B, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In the context of a growing international and national demand for affordable, reliable energy sources that are also low in carbon emissions, new sites for coal seam gas extraction have emerged in rural and remote Australia over recent years. As elsewhere in the globe, these developments have been met with mixed sentiments, producing a highly contested landscape in which agriculture, energy extraction, Indigenous community interests and environmental protection/conservation are held in an uneasy and dynamic tension with each other. One key area of contention that to date has received relatively little attention is the redistribution of resource wealth from such endeavours to source regions, localities and Indigenous owners in order to support economic and socio-cultural development in otherwise staples-dependent spaces. Drawing on insights from Innis’ staples theory and geographical political economy, this paper explores the development and operation of public and private redistributive mechanisms associated with the allocation of the benefits from coal seam gas exploration and extraction in two relatively remote regions of rural Australia: Narrabri (New South Wales) and the Surat Basin (Queensland). Ultimately, the paper assesses the capacity of such redistribution instruments to help foster the conditions for the development of functionally complex and inclusive local and regional economies.

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