Australia must enhance cooperation between governments and industry and address poor public understanding of fracking to address rising energy prices, experts told an APPEA event in Perth yesterday.

The APPEA Connect Event – The Pennsylvania Story – was a breakfast presentation that discussed how Pennsylvania’s government, industry and community have worked together to capture economic opportunities through responsible gas development.

Chevron Australia managing director Nigel Hearne ran Chevron’s business in Pennsylvania before relocating to Perth.

Mr Hearne shared the stage with visiting Pennsylvania Secretary for Community and Economic Development, Dennis Davin. Mr Davin said both sides of politics in Pennsylvania had  supported shale gas following the severe decline of the state’s steel industry.

This is in contrast to Australia where fracking has become a political football. Moratoriums – or even outright bans – have been introduced in some jurisdictions despite reviews showing that fracking can be implemented safely and sustainably.

Numerous experts – including the Productivity Commission, AEMO and the ACCC agree that those measures have contributed to the rise in east coast gas prices.

Mr Hearne  said Australia needs better leadership to manage its energy resources more responsibly.

“To have a resource-rich country that has some of the highest energy costs at certain locations is not responsible,” he told the event.

He said Australia needs better cooperation between state and federal governments, and this should include energy, environment and economic policy frameworks that are integrated and complementary.

“We’ve got to get some common ground and act responsibly,” Mr Hearne said.

“That’s going to take leadership. It’s going to take somebody to do something different.”

Mr Davin said there was poor public understanding about fracking.

“With knowledge comes understanding,” he said.

“You need some strong policy leaders to get behind this. The public has to believe and understand that there’s something in it for them.”

The Pennsylvania Story breakfast event was covered by The West Australian, The Australian and the Financial Review.

The APPEA Connect Series of networking and information-sharing events provides forums for APPEA members to discuss and learn about industry issues. For more information, see this link.