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Byron Shire
October 22, 2021

Coalition ‘declares war’ by pushing CSG

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New federal industry minister Ian Macfarlane says he wants NSW farmers to embrace CSG.
New federal industry minister Ian Macfarlane says he wants NSW farmers to embrace CSG.

Luis Feliu

North coast residents, MPs and anti-coal seam gas (CSG) campaigners have lashed out at the new federal government’s pro-CSG agenda, with some saying the coalition has declared war on farmers and communities by backing the controversial industry.

The incoming federal industry minister, Ian Macfarlane, sparked outrage yesterday by declaring he would lobby and ‘push hard’ for NSW farmers to rethink their opposition.

The minister said development of the industry in NSW would be ‘a priority’ and ‘the most urgent resource issue’ of the new government.

Lock the Gate Northern Rivers says Mr Macfarlane’s comments that opposition to the CSG industry was unscientific and driven by small but vocal interest groups showed he was ‘out of touch’ with community concerns.

And Richmond MP Justine Elliot has challenged the Nationals’ new Page MP Kevin Hogan to publicly reject the minister’s push in the wake of his comments and her call to the NSW parliament this week to debate a petition against CSG by more than 12,000 residents in both the Page and Richmond electorates.

Mr Hogan is yet to comment, despite a request by Echonetdaily.

Greens NSW mining spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said the Abbott government had ‘declared war on the farmers and communities around NSW who are trying to protect their land and water from the threat posed by coal seam gas’.

‘The Abbott government seems willing to risk agriculture and water resources, so that a few large oil companies can export LNG to Asian markets; their priorities are back-to-front,’ Mr Buckingham said.

MPs must stand up

‘The question is now whether the National Party, and MPs such as Barnaby Joyce, will have the guts to stand up their Coalition colleagues.’

Mrs Elliot has also challenged the north coast’s four National MPs to speak out against the government now and in the debate to be triggered by the tabling of the petition by the end of the year.

‘The north coast National Party MPs Geoff Provest (Tweed), Don Page (Ballina), Thomas George (Lismore) and Chris Gulaptis (Clarence) have nowhere left to hide. They must stand up and speak in this debate,’ she said.

‘Our community was forced to present this petition because the National Party MPs have refused to listen to our concerns about CSG mining.’

The petition was launched in February this year by Mrs Elliot and the former member for Page, Janelle Saffin.

Mrs Elliot told Echonetdaily yesterday that she felt sorry that Ms Saffin had lost her seat given her vocal opposition to CSG and now it was time for her replacement, Mr Hogan, to ‘stand up and be counted’ on his promise to cross the floor against the CSG  industry taking a foothold on the north coast.

‘The biggest threat to our way of life is the National Party’s pro-CSG, drilling, fracking and expansion agenda,’ she said.

‘The National Party at both a state and federal level have pro-CSG plans and this petition demands they explain themselves.’

Mrs Elliot and Ms Saffin had both lobbied their government for the ‘water trigger’ clause in federal legislation pushed by former independent MP Tony Windsor as a means of stopping CSG exploration and mining if water supplies were under threat of contamination.

Lock the Gate spokesperson Boudicca Cerese said opposition to CSG on the north coast was very widespread and massive, with 95 per cent of people surveyed by their group opposed to it.

Ms Cerese said, ‘every single candidate’ in the region during the election campaign had stated their opposition to CSG ‘because they knew people here were against it’.

Mr Buckingham said, ‘Export LNG is creating an entirely artificial gas supply problem, yet rather than reserve gas for domestic supply, the coalition looks set to let coal seam gas rip across the landscape’.

He said the best way to solve the gas-supply problem ‘without wrecking NSW with coal seam gas’ is to introduce a domestic gas reservation policy ‘that reserves some conventional gas for domestic use’.

Mrs Elliot said locals were now fighting the state and federal coalition governments as well as CSG mining companies on the issue.

‘They underestimate the people of the north coast; we will fight to stop Gaslands happening here,’ she said.

Mrs Elliot urged locals to contact the north coast National Party MPs to ‘demand they speak on this important CSG debate in the NSW parliament’.

She said people could sign the petition at: www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/la/latabdoc.nsf/V3ListPetitionsLE500.

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  1. The Nats candidate in Richmond Matthew Fraser was proCSG and claimed it was a non issue. Voters rejected him and having read Abbott’s proCSG position it was good that we did reject Fraser. Worse still is that Kevin Hogan claimed to be against it but it his govt that is driving this fracking dirty industry two weeks into a three year term.

  2. Mrs. Elliot is introducing a “red herring” to the process of preserving the optimal natural environment by organising a “petition”. She should know that Parliament is supposed to be there to do the bidding of “the people”. Accordingly “the people” do not need to ask through a petition. Logistically too the Parliament does not legally have to take any notice of one. Is there an alternative path ? Well, actually, there is but you will hear very little mention of it from GovCo and agents of the various political franchises (LNP, Lab, Greens etc ). It’s called a “Mandate”. Take the word “Petition” off the paper or online form and replace it with “Mandate”. Simple as that. Doing that you stop asking and start commanding. Isn’t that how the process is supposed to work ?

  3. Leave it in the ground. Then, when the very most important thing in the whole world is satisfying our addiction to fossil fuel, (even more important than the future of the planet!) it will still be there and we can use it then – instead of hocking it off to china for a quick buck now, nothing for Ron.

  4. Alarm bells rang as soon as I read which three particular department heads were sacked by Australia’s current Prime Minister, him obviously clearing the path for rampant decimation of our environment.

    CSG is an ugly, polluting, unsafe industry, whose heads have falsified friendly relations with pretend farmers in order to further their “It’s a safe, clean, green industry” campaign bid. Those people immediately aware of the horrors of CSG did not sit idle when Labor failed to adequately muzzle the CSG tyrants, and they won’t now that we find ourselves governed by a party that clearly still believes the Earth is flat. Heaven forbid! That people voted for this government, knowing where their beliefs and values lay, is unfathomable to any who take our future, beyond the promise of fool’s gold, seriously. CSG is like a cancer, its growth unrestrained once let loose, and this government is actively supporting its malignant incursion into our lives.

    A NIMBY issue? Absolutely, but only where my backyard is OUR environment, OUR water supply, OUR children’s health, the food WE eat and the air WE breathe.

    This industry is not distrusted by a vocal handful. More deceit. Thousands upon thousands of people have pleaded, petitioned and protested, long and hard, for common sense, foresight and responsible governance, to no avail.

    The evidence is there, tragically smouldering behind the blue sky, green grass, and happy cow with farmer falsity that CSG’s honchos aim to blinker unwitting folk with. Ask the real people; not those with pecuniary interests in that unclean business, but real farmers and residents whose families are ill, whose land and homes are no longer their haven, and whose lives have been shattered by this ‘harmless’ and ‘safe’ practice.

    Just how many members of the Australian public is our new Prime Minister willing to arrest and gaol for defending what is ours?

  5. Is ANYONE surprised?
    Did YOU vote for them?
    Oh and the part about Barnaby Joyce having guts is hillarious!
    Keep up the great work Echo, I need my daily laugh, it is after all the best medicine.

  6. As usual you cannot trust any government party, how much of this country do they have to ruin, they are really are doing a good job at it.

  7. Water is the number one most valuable resource in this country. Before any CSG mining occurs the govt should provide copies of the detailed studies they have done proving this practice is 100% safe for ground water. If these studies have not been done then the govt should show cause why it should be held accountable for environmental vanadlism and human rights violations.

    The fact is that the state government is clearly in breach of trust over this issue and the people of NSW need to express a loss of confidence in the ability of this administration to govern and take steps to ensure they are forced to step down to be replaced by people with some degree of intelligence.

    Any politician that supports CSG mining and who seriously believes that writing some jibberish on a piece of paper and daring to call it “law” is enough to convince people not to work actively to destroy and decimate this destructive and toxic industry by any means their disposal, should be required to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

  8. Carol,
    It’s the NO tes/cash a de lire’ part that stands in the way of these scumbags ever accepting the will of the people. They’re all making a fortune out of it ! ask Thomas George.

  9. Barnaby Joyce’s campaign manager….ex Nationals leader John Anderson and ex chairman of Eastern Star Gas (now Santos) ……. CSG drillers in NSW Pilliga Forest….Mark Vaile….chairman of Whitehaven Coal…presently destroying Leard Forest….and ask local farmers in those areas what they think of CSG and open cut mines!

  10. I agree with Dr Bhatt.. that is the way to go. A mandate not a petition. To them this is a game and us sending a petition does nothing. They see us as ignorant and think they have the power to do whatever they want. They are there to represent us and if we want to be taken seriously we have to start acting like we know what our constitutional rights are and stop playing into there game. We need to step this up and send a Mandate. Also recently they surveyed this whole area, we should be using the statistics from these surveys to base the Mandate on. I don’t know enough about the legalities but I’m sure there is someone out there who does. So we need to spread the word,plant the seed and start to take back control of our rights. It’s the people who govern this country and the government are supposed to just be our elected representatives… So we need to make commands and demands not petitions and requests, especially not in a matter this important. A matter that will affect us long into the future. Where is our say in this? Where is the referendum? It’s time to stand up now and protect our land our water and our future. Please take time to inform all those who don’t understand about CSG. I am still amazed at how many people I run into who don’t even know about it.. Spread the word let everyone know how important this is and how once it starts it’s almost impossible to reverse. Take a look at Tara in QLD.

  11. This is dismal news, but hardly surprising.

    Does anybody find it curious that across a range of issues – coal seam gas, coal mining, fluoridation, GMOs, vaccination, natural health to give a few examples – the rhetoric emanating from the government/media/industry complex is becoming increasingly extreme?


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