A threatened species: Australia’s oil and gas industry

Thought you’d heard of all the threatened species of note? You’re missing one: Australia’s oil and gas industry.

A new, shameless attempt to negate the bad press the industry gets from oil spills, climate change, pollution, and being owned by ruthless profiteers, the Our Natural Advantage website adopts the language and tools of green protest in a cynical attempt to dilute messages and negate legitimate protest.

What they’ve copied

Language: The oil and gas industry is ‘threatened’, it needs to be ‘defended’ and ‘protected’. The ‘future’ is mentioned a lot. Gas is ‘natural’.

Narrative: There is a baddy in this story, and it’s the Greens. They ‘say no’ to jobs. They ‘risk the future’.

Petition: There’s a petition you can sign and email to your MP.

Information tools: There’s a ticker with inflated figures of how much money and jobs the industry has generously pumped into Australia’s economy along with all that climate-changing air pollution

What it means

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. They’ve copied our language and our methods because they are working.

Lobbying 101 tells us that the best way to strengthen your case is to team up with an unlikely partner and sing from the same hymn sheet. Lock the Gate, the greens and farmers who object to coal seam gas exploration on prime Australian farmland, does just this, so we can guess from the website that Lock the Gate has the oil and gas people trembling like a fracked paddock.

It also means all the usual things: they have pots of money, they can afford huge PR bills and they intend to fight to the bitter end to protect the huge profits they siphon from the shared wealth beneath our feet.

It also makes them a fair target for satire and protest, and gives a place for that protest to live. Signing up a few thousand non existent people might be fun, and might keep them busy and paying those PR bills.

Most of all though, it means that we have to think of new ways to get our messages out and ensure that people in power hear and act on them