Another conservative political voice has joined the chorus calling for a ban on coal seam licence from the north coast of new south wales.
New Nationals Member of the Legislative Council, Ben Franklin, who lives in Ballina, has used his inaugural address to parliament to speak out against CSG mining in the region.
Mr Franklin also named public education, high speed rail, reducing the size of western NSW seats, and cultural equity as his other main focus areas.
He promised to be a fierce advocate for the region.
Mr Franklin said that given that community concerns about CSG were so prevalent, a legal framework for eliminating exploration licenses on the north coast must be found by the government.
‘It is very clear to me that the northern rivers are resolute in their determination that CSG is not appropriate to their area,” Mr Franklin said.
“If we are to excise CSG from the North Coast we must do it in a sensible, responsible and legal way.”
Meanwhile, Page MP Kevin Hogan has also spoken in federal parliament this week about his ongoing opposition to CSG in the region.
Mr Hogan told Parliament he came to the conclusion that CSG was inappropriate for Page after he visited Chinchilla in Queensland in January 2013 to spoke with community members about the impact of the industry there.
‘I tried to envisage what the industry would look like in my region,’ he said.
‘I could not see how the industry could work without being extremely invasive given the nature of our topography and small land owning. It would be exceptionally detrimental to neighbouring properties.’
Mr Hogan said he was “extremely disappointed” by the last month’s decision by the NSW Supreme Court to overturn the State Government’s suspension of the Metgasco licence.
‘Last year I applauded the action of my state colleagues to suspend Metgasco’s drilling programme at Bentley,’ he said.
‘There were 6000 to 7000 people willing to stop a drill going onto a property in my area. A thousand police would have been needed to get that drill on to the land because of people’s concerns about the impact of the CSG industry.
‘I am extremely disappointed by the decision of NSW Supreme Court to squash this suspension.
‘I have spoken to my state colleagues and they are looking for avenues to appeal this decision. They are also looking to buyback Pel 445.”
Mr Hogan said apart from concerns about air and water quality, he was worried about the industrialisation of the pristine landscape of the northern rivers by CSG which would be exacerbated by our small land holdings compared with Chincilla.
‘My community has spoken. I have listened and I will do whatever I can do to support my state colleagues in anything we can do to keep the Northern Rivers Coal Seam Gas free,’ he told Parliament.
The political support is sure to be welcomed by anti-CSG campaigners, who will meet today at the site of the Bentley blockade, just outside Lismore.
Members of Gasfield Free Northern Rivers are planning to present a framed print of the Bentley Blockade to John Scarabelotti, the owner of the land where the blockade camp was located.
The presentation marks one year to the day when the government initially suspended Metgasco’s drilling licence.
Metgasco chief executive Peter Henderson announced last month that the company could be back drilling at Bentley in ‘about three months.’
Mr Henderson told the Australian newspaper that he expected police would be needed to ensure that drilling was not disrupted by protestors.
Mr Henderson said Metgasco wanted to liaise with community groups ahead of the recommencement of drilling.
‘We really want to talk to government and police, we would like to do everything we can to manage community relations,’ he said.
‘We want to be as small a burden as possible, but we really do need to have our rights upheld.’