Barnaby Joyce to sell coal seam gas property

Former senator Barnaby Joyce, now the Nationals' candidate for New England, is to sell his rural acreage in north-western NSW to avoid a conflict of interests.

He acquired his Gwabegar property in 2006 for $230,000 in what he said was a cheap way to get back into the land after a career in politics. He acquired the neighbouring lot in 2008 for $342,000, bringing the total holding to 970 hectares.

But the presence of coal seam gas in the area sparked a conflict of interests for Joyce who must strike a balance between anti coal seam gas farmers in his electorate and the mining interests of the coalition.

The marginal grazing land is close to coal seam gas exploration fields in the Pilliga.

Eastern Star gas started exploration there in 2002 and has plans for 1100 gas wells, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

In October 2007, Eastern Star Gas appointed former Nationals leader and deputy prime minister John Anderson as its chairman – the same man who is now working as campaign manager for Joyce.

But in 2011 Joyce denied knowing the company had a petroleum exploration licence over his properties.

Joyce told The Sydney Morning Herald he wants no part in the boom.

“I'm happy to sell it, it's for sale,” he said.

“If someone wants to take it off my hands and make a million dollars, go right ahead.”

Alistair Walsh

Alistair Walsh

Deutsche Welle online reporter

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