I am the mother of 11 children and we live bang smack in the middle of the Queensland gas fields at Chinchilla.
There are 26 gas wells within two kilometres of our home and seven gas wells on our 350ha property. We are surrounded by compressor stations, holding ponds and pipelines.
When we bought our home 11 years ago there was no coal seam gas industry on our doorstep. We chose this place because we wanted a quiet retreat and a safe place where our kids could ride their motorbikes, go fishing and roam freely.
In 2005 the gas invasion started. The impact on my family has been huge. The gas industry has literally ruined our lives.
My youngest children have had ongoing health issues. My youngest daughter is eight and wakes up in the middle of the night screaming in pain from headaches and bashing her head against the wall in a desperate attempt to make the headaches go away.
My youngest son is just six and is constantly missing days off school because he is unwell.
My teenage son also suffers from headaches. When we moved here no one had headaches, but now our health is getting worse.
Vents push gas into the air every single day when the gas lines are running. Three vents are within 150 metres of our home. We can’t prove it’s the gas that is making us sick, but something is.
When we signed up with QGC to let them put a well on our place in 2005 we had no idea what was in store for us. A year later they came back and ordered us to sign up for more wells. They told us if we didn’t sign then they would take us to the Land Court and we would lose everything.
They pay us just $265 a year for each well. They have also taken 23 ha of our property for gas infrastructure and roads. We get another $531 a ha per year for the land they effectively rent from us.
But the money is nothing. For this small amount we have to put up with the constant coming and goings on our property, the noise, the traffic, and whatever is making us sick.
We want to leave but we can’t. We have a ten-bedroom home and would never be able to afford another house that would be able to accommodate all of us in town or anywhere else.
Our property is also where we run our family business, a trucking and carting business. If we leave our property we effectively have to walk away from our home and our business. We will have to start again with eight children still at home. It’s not really an option.
There is a Senate Inquiry into the activities of the Queensland Government that is sitting at the moment. It is called the Senate Inquiry into Certain Aspects of the Queensland Government Administration Relating to Commonwealth Government Affairs. The terms of reference include an examination of the approvals of coal seam gas projects in Queensland.
I hope to give evidence to the Senate Inquiry and in particular to the terms of reference relating to the CSG industry.
I want to tell the inquiry what the CSG industry has done to our lives and I want to warn others what it is like to live in a gas field.
We have been treated appallingly by the gas industry and by the Queensland Government who have turned a blind eye to our concerns.
We are not political people but we are angry at what has happened to us and we want to know how and why our political representatives have sat on their hands and allowed the gas industry to ride roughshod over the human rights, property rights and health concerns of ordinary Queenslanders.
We want to know what is making us sick and we want to know why the gas industry was allowed to put wells and vents so close to homes without even a baseline health study.
We hope that the senate Inquiry can help us get justice for our family and others who are also facing the daily hell of living in an industrialised gas hub.
*Narelle Nothdurft is a mother of 11 and is soon to be grandmother. She also works as a mechanic and cake decorator and lives with her husband and eight of their children on a rural property near Chinchilla, in southern Queensland.