Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance Seminar

Upcoming: Australia's coal seam gas debate: insights from history, justice, legal geography, planners and lawyers

Tue 24 September 2019Speaker: David Turton, Australian National University / 11:00am - 12:00pmVenue: The Dryzek Room, Building 22, University of Canberra


Coal seam gas (CSG) is a hotly disputed land use in Australia. Despite this controversial status and regular appearances in the media, the debate around this unconventional energy source often fails to reach beyond stakeholder polarisation, rarely acknowledging the sector’s historical presence in Australia, and the manner in which this resource has engaged different types of professional expertise: from planners to lawyers, judges and others. I present a selection of findings showcasing the interaction between law, space and CSG and the value of history in tempering heated CSG discussions. In particular, I draw on insights from the legal and planning professions, stakeholders with experience in responding to a variety of contested landscapes, in order to highlight the sector’s broader societal impacts and to situate this industry alongside other land use challenges faced by Australia. I also touch upon more recent research involving CSG compensation arrangements, lawyers and submissions to government inquiries.


Dr David Turton’s research combines aspects of history, justice and legal geography to examine Australia’s coal seam gas debate, with an emphasis on the contributions of judges, lawyers and planners. He is an Honorary Lecturer at the Fenner School of Environment and Society at the Australian National University, with a background in history and law. Previously employed in frontline service delivery roles with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, prior to his PhD studies David’s research focused on the history of public administration, environmental history and socio-legal studies.

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