Lack of leadership could derail CSG

I'VE just driven through the Western Downs, into northern NSW and down through the Hunter Valley.

These important regions have two things in common, both relevant to real estate: strong agricultural economies and an issue with coal seam gas.

As I drove through regions west of Toowoomba, I saw farm after farm with banners rejecting resources companies. I visited Gunnedah which recently staged a rally hosted by broadcaster Alan Jones. Last weekend there were multiple anti-CSG rallies in communities throughout the Hunter region.

I wasn't in these areas to research the CSG issue. I was on one of my regular field trips to explore potential hotspots for real estate buyers. But the top-of-mind status of this issue across wide regions of Queensland and NSW has been inescapable.

This issue is taking on the critical mass of a major people's movement. Rightly or wrongly, people from Victoria to Queensland are shouting their concerns. It's not just the farmers: much of Sydney is covered with exploration permits.

It's all very new and it's all happening so fast. CSG has become the gold rush of the 21st Century and a lot of bewildered people are getting caught up in it.

State governments have been making polite noises but in essence doing very little to address the concerns of farmers, town residents and environmentalists. They will have to pay attention very soon.

CSG is highly important from a real estate perspective. Towns like Dalby and Chinchilla in Queensland, and Narrabri and Gunnedah in NSW, have economies that have turned traditionally on agriculture, with a little bit of tourism.

The resources boom is holding out the prospect of economic diversity, which is important for property investors. You don't want to invest in one-industry economies.

The new resources activity promises jobs and economic activity, and from that demand for real estate - which will push up prices and rents. It's the holy grail for property owners.

But this is turning into the kind of political mess that could derail something which looked to have unstoppable momentum. Leadership is desperately needed.

Terry Ryder is the founder of hotspotting.com.au

ryder@hotspotting.com.au

twitter.com/hotspotting


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