The oil and gas industry has been a part of Western Australia’s Mid West region for more than 50 years, working with local communities and landholders to ensure that natural resources are developed safely and responsibly in a way that maximises the benefits for everyone.

Renewed gas exploration in places such as Dongara has the potential to deliver new jobs, infrastructure and business opportunities.

Last year, for example, AWE Limited invested more than $6 million in the Mid West through wages, contracts and community partnerships. The company’s total investment this year will be more than double that.

Australia-wide, gas projects are generating billions of dollars in taxes and royalties that help fund vital government services.

The world is hungry for energy. Demand for cleaner-burning natural gas is growing.

The Mid West is ideally placed to capitalise on this.

It has abundant reserves of gas.

It has a robust, well-developed regulatory regime that holds the health and safety of people and the environment as paramount.

And it has a world-class industry with a long and proud history of responsible operations.

Unfortunately, it has also attracted a world-class scare campaign promoted by a global activist movement which seeks to convince communities that hydraulic fracturing is an unacceptable risk.

But as Australia’s Chief Scientist and countless inquiries have shown, ‘fracking’ is perfectly safe when properly regulated. We have been doing it in Australia for decades.

Without fracking, some gas deposits cannot be developed. Jobs and economic opportunity will be lost.

It is critical, therefore, that misleading and deceptive claims about fracking and natural gas are firmly rejected.

Gas companies are committed to meaningful consultation and providing fact-based information to reassure people who have genuine concerns about their operations.

Trust, mutual respect and a shared acceptance of evidence-based decision-making provide a solid foundation for co-existence.

Fact and not fear must ultimately guide the industry’s development.

This article was first published in The Mid West Times on 9 November.