Hunter Business Chamber caught out on gas plagiarism

The Hunter Business Chamber was today caught out by The Greens for blatantly plagiarising a state government industry development website in a public statement in support of a gas industry in the Hunter. The Greens candidate for Newcastle, John Sutton, said that a HBC media release titled “Gas is a viable future energy source” (dated 22 November) was almost entirely a word-for-word lift from the Industry and Investment NSW website (http://www.industry.nsw.gov.au/energy/gas), with the stolen words being attributed to HBC CEO Peter Shinnick. A support document, titled “Member Information Bulletin, Hunter Gas Industry”, also steals entire slabs of text straight from the government website, without any acknowledgement of the source, Mr Sutton said.

“When I was a university lecturer, a piece of work submitted with this level of plagiarism would have been immediately failed, with a requirement for it to be done again properly,” Mr Sutton said. “That’s what the HBC needs to do here. “It’s not good enough on such an important issue, involving such huge economic, environmental and social stakes, for the HBC to simply cut and paste its material from a government website, and present it as its own.

“This is a huge embarrassment for the Chamber, and highly insulting to the local communities who have legitimate concerns about the potential impact of gas exploration and mining, and to the National Farmers Federation, who have expressed similar concerns, and have joined with The Greens in calling for a moratorium on further gas exploration in the Hunter. “Concerns raised revolve primarily around the practice of “fracking”, which involves chemically fracturing subterranean rock formations to allow gas extraction, potentially contaminating aquifers and land, and creating air pollution and waste.

“If the Chamber wants to be taken seriously on this issue, they can’t just play the role of a ventriloquist dummy for a government website. They need to listen to people in the affected communities, and do their own research and thinking on gas mining. “I hope that Mr Shinnick and other Chamber board members attend the showing of Gasland in Newcastle next week (at 5:45pm at Greater Union Cinemas in King St), which depicts the harrowing story of one person’s engagement with the gas mining industry in the United States.

“This is emerging as a major issue for everyone, as the residents of St Peters, in inner west Sydney, discovered recently, when they found out that Macquarie Energy had been granted approval for exploratory drilling there,” Mr Sutton said.

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