The NSW election result shows voters in many regional electorates reject coal seam gas and have handed the government a mandate to protect communities and water resources from mining.
In the regions where massive opposition to coal and gas mining was a crucial factor, the Liberals and Nationals have lost four key seats – Ballina, Lismore, Wyong and Campbelltown – and there have been very large swings against them in Upper Hunter and Barwon of roughly 17 and 21 per cent respectively.
The government needs to learn from the outcomes in these electorates and to hear the very strong message that communities are sending them.
The results from this election in regional NSW is loud and clear – the NSW government has an overwhelming mandate to change direction, and act to protect water, farmland and people from the impacts of coal and gas mining.
It was incredibly disappointing that the government didn’t do more during the campaign than buy back a few CSG licences, most of which were inactive: what’s needed is a far more strategic, root and branch reform of mining.
There’s been political earthquake on the far north coast, with two seats switching directly to the Greens from the National Party. This has been a direct result of widespread opposition to coal seam gas and an unprecedented community democracy movement.
The backlash against the Warkworth coal mine and Gloucester gas project has contributed to the result in Upper Hunter, and rejection of gasfields in the Pilliga to the dramatic swing against the National Party in the Barwon.
First on the agenda should be putting the breaks on coal seam gas, dumping the failed NSW Gas Plan, delivering a gasfield free Northern Rivers and immediately putting in motion a reform agenda to fulfill long-neglected promises to protect farmland and water resources from coal mining.
Phil Laird, national co-ordinator Lock the Gate Alliance