Billion-dollar liars: Mining industry ads exposed

It's just about impossible to watch a commercial TV channel anywhere in Australia without being assaulted by slick mining company ads telling us how good they supposedly are for the community. Incredible amounts of money are being spent on these brainwashing campaigns.

One set of these advertisements more specifically targets communities that are resisting the onslaught of the coal seam gas (CSG) miners, particularly in precious water catchment areas and prime food producing regions. These ads are often more targeted in their messaging, but they have been caught out lying.

In September, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) was reprimanded by the CSIRO — Australia’s peak scientific body — for claiming in a TV ad that “CSIRO [and government studies] have shown that groundwater is safe with coal seam gas”.

The ads, which according to Ben Cubby of the Sydney Morning Herald cost $2.5 million to put together, were pulled after being aired for one weekend.

Then in November another deceitful ad — this time by the CSG mining company Santos — was exposed.

As the Stop CSG Illawarra group explains on its website, “Santos ran a TV ad featuring a farmer standing amongst his canola crop, extolling the virtues of CSG’s co-existence with agriculture. It appeared to be quite a compelling story, except to Don Hubbard, the actual owner of the farm, who recognised it as his own. He did not provide permission for Santos or the farmer used in the ad to enter and film on his land.”

Santos have since pulled this ad.

But the million-dollar serial lying by the CSG mining companies continues, the group says.

Santos’ latest campaign leads with the question, “Couldn't CSG threaten our water supplies?”. “No. Just the opposite,” the ad says and invites the audience to find answers at

“What’s astonishing is that just two months after the industry was chastised by the CSIRO for distorting their findings on groundwater,” says Stop CSG Illawarra, “the ad goes on to claim as fact that CSG is not a threat to water.”

They must believe if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.

Big companies spend most of the $8 billion spent each year on advertising in Australia. They constantly lie, day after day, about what we should eat and drink, what we should wear, how we should get about and what we should think. They lie about politics and they lie about the future of our shared environment.

So who counters these billion-dollar lies, and with what resources?

It is community campaign groups operating on a shoestring like Stop CSG Illawarra and people-powered independent media projects like Green Left Weekly.

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