THE AUSTRALIAN APRIL 06, 2015 12:00AM
Paul Cleary - Senior Writer
Image: News Corp Australia
Anti CSG activist Dayne Pratzky also known as Dayne Pratzky, aka “Frackman”, with a flare at a gas well near the Ruby Spur pipeline in Queensland.
People living on the frontline of Australia’s resources rush have had their lives transformed for better and for worse. Many of these communities have benefited from jobs growth, but they’ve also had to live with a 24/7 barrage of fumes, dust, noise and other ill-effects from the industrialisation of rural areas.
Queensland’s coal-seam gas, for example, created thousands of jobs in the wake of the financial crisis but it poses risks to the health of people living near these operations, and to land and water resources. Residents living near gas wells and plants have reported nose bleeds, headaches and cramps.
The sheer scale, complexity and speed of the CSG rollout has made it very difficult for communities and the media to make government and industry accountable.
So the work of former Tara resident Dayne Pratzky to monitor and document the effects of this burgeoning industry through guerilla tactics makes for compelling viewing.
Pratzky is the subject of a documentary film, Frackman, which has had more than 100 screenings around Australia. It follows in the tradition of the US film Gasland, but the sheer passion, capacity and creativity that Pratzky brings to the task of probing the industry’s operations is quite formidable.
Pratzky is a former construction worker and one-time pig shooter who bought a small scrubby block near Tara, 300km west of Brisbane, where he hoped to build a house and live a quiet life. He is no greenie. Co-producer Simon Nasht says the film’s strength is that it is character-driven rather than issues-based.
Director Richard Todd initially filmed a raft of anti-CSG activists, including radio host Alan Jones, but in the final cut it was Pratzky who emerged as the standout character.
Nasht, who is in partnership with entrepreneur Dick Smith via a company called Smith & Nasht, said he approached the ABC to back the film but it was reluctant after being “monstered” by the industry. Nor was a standard theatrical release viable, so the company has relied largely on crowdsourcing through the tugg.com.au website, which allows people to ask theatres to screen films.