If anyone were under any misapprehension that the state government was listening to its constituents over the issue of coal-seam gas, the events of this week appear to have put an end to that.
On Wednesday, planning minister Brad Hazzard paid a flying visit to Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell to discuss issues surrounding the LEP. As he was leaving, Dowell told ABC radio, he noticed the numerous declarations against CSG decorating the walls of her office and made the pointed remark, ‘well it’s going to happen anyway’.
Meanwhile, at the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association’s coal-seam gas conference in Brisbane, minister for resources and energy Chris Hartcher told an enthusiastic audience that New South Wales’s ‘decade of lost opportunity is over’ and the state is now ‘well and truly open for business’.
In responding to the comments to media yesterday, Lock the Gate Tweed’s Michael McNamara said, ‘any government, any minister, who ignores the wishes of their own community is going to pay a very high price.’
These comments also bring into sharp focus tomorrow’s Rock the Gate rally and concert in Murwillumbah. Preparations for the event are in full swing and expectations are high that crowds will outstrip the 7,000 who attended the inaugural event in Lismore earlier this year.
Organiser Amanda Shoebridge was at pains to point out Rock the Gate is attracting a broad spectrum of community members.
‘This is not a green movement, nor is it affiliated with any political group. The people who came to the last Rock the Gate Rally in Lismore were not vigilantes, as some mining chiefs suggested; they were Australians from every sphere who were, and who remain, concerned about the devastating and irreparable impacts this industry could have on our region,’ she said yesterday.
She reiterated that the science is still out on the effects of coal-seam gas mining.
‘We simply ask that a moratorium on exploration and production of CSG be put in place until we know it is safe, and until the necessary research has been done. And until that time, mining companies and our state government can expect long and loud protests,’ said Ms Shoebridge.
Tomorrow’s event features a jam-packed program of diverse and informed speakers and an incredible lineup of live performance, including Pete Murray, Natalie Papaa’a from Blue King Brown, the Round Mountain Girls, Deya Dova, Kerrianne Cox, Luke Vassella and many more.
A 10-metre LED cinema screen will beam messages of support from the likes of John Butler, Leo Sayer, Bob Brown, Xavier Rudd, Mick Conway and others. There will also be roving cameras and the opportunity for people at Rock the Gate Northern Rivers to record their own messages of support to be beamed onto the big screen.
Speakers will include GetUp!’s national director Sam McLean; Reanna Willis from Beyond Zero Emissions; Rob Quirk of the Tweed Canegrowers Association; Lock the Gate President Drew Hutton and many others.
The march through the Murwillumbah CBD at noon will return to the rousing sounds of the Samba Blisstas at the Murwillumbah Showgrounds where the concert kicks off from 1pm.