Kyogle declared itself a coal seam gas (CSG) free community over the weekend as more than 90 per cent of the local government area (LGA) handed in road declarations to Kyogle mayor Danielle Mulholland.
Kyogle Council currently has a moratorium on CSG mining in their LGA and Cr Mulholland said the signed road closures against CSG ‘reinforce council’s position’.
‘I do believe that I am representing the views of the majority of the people in the LGA,’ Cr Mulholland said. ‘Whether you are for or against CSG it has, like no other issue, put the unity back into community.
‘No other issue has the potential to so significantly and irreversibly affect the quality of our water, soil and air and indeed the quality of our lives, that CSG can,’ Cr Mulholland said.
‘Whilst we commend the state government for implementing the most stringent regulations in Australia, we can also acknowledge that governments from all persuasions have a poor track record of regulating industries when questionable promises of large sums of money flow into depleted government coffers.
‘Think of asbestos, lead, tip dips, aluminium, thalidomide, the list goes on. Until we get an iron-clad guarantee that CSG is a safe industry who would want it near their home or in their community?’ Cr Mulholland said.
‘Independent baseline assessments should be a mandatory requirement of any licence agreements, we need firm timelines for remediation of the land after gas companies finish, all to be undertaken by the companies who do the damage in the first place.
‘Compensation should also be made available if people suffer damage to their farmland, their health, the quality of their air and water and for any economic loss of the values of their properties,’ Cr Mulholland said.
‘We have denied social licence to CSG companies in the northern rivers area but they remain equally as clear they intend to come whether we like it or not.
‘I am proud to represent a community that stands up for social justice and is so committed to preserving its way of life that it demands to be heard,’ Cr Mulholland said.
‘The people in this community will never stop fighting until our way of life is assured and we see the last of CSG in the northern rivers,’ Cr Mulholland said.
Cr Janet Wilson told Echonetdaily that her attendance was ‘broader than just supporting her community, this movement is the most successful social movement since the feminist movement since the 1970s.
‘When communities begin to look for answers to problems that they face and come together to try and resolve those issues, then I think it is up to councillors to provide them with the support to do that,’ Cr Wilson said.
Nationals MP Kevin Hogan told Echonetdaily ‘it is an important role of an MP to go to as many things you are invited to as you can as my job is to listen to the community.
‘I still have question marks over the CSG industry relating to water and air and the industrialisation of the area. Those concerns haven’t changed for me,’ Mr Hogan said.
‘Like a lot of issues our party has different opinions on, some agree with me and some don’t.’
Mr Hogan told Echonetdaily that he remained ‘hopeful.’
When speaking at the event Mr Hogan said that he would ‘still cross the floor on this issue.’
‘My current position is that I have real concerns over pollution to water and air and the industrialisation that it brings,’ said Mr Hogan.
‘For the first seven or eight years that Metgasco were operating out at Casino, I knew very little about them.
‘I was a candidate in the 2010 election and no one came and spoke to me about CSG. Post that election the industry matured here in different areas and more information has come to light,’ Mr Hogan said.
‘I went to Tara for a day with an open mind, it raised real issues and concerns for me,’ said Mr Hogan.
‘Apart from the water and air pollution concerns, the industrialisation of the area was disturbing,’ said Mr Hogan.
‘I am not saying this as a threat but an observation. I believe the community opposition to this industry is huge and I did say to Peter Henderson CEO of Metgasco that when they return they will find greater opposition than when they left,’ said Mr Hogan.
Northern rivers regional coordinator of Lock the Gate (LTG) Alliance Ian Gaillard commended the Kyogle community on their action to protect their country from ‘gas, coal, gold and uranium mining.’
Mr Gaillard spoke at the event and said LTG had ‘wised up (since its founding), we now know the mining companies that come in here are hollow men and they don’t have anything to offer than the share price.’
Mr Gaillard attended the Metgasco AGM recently and said that he was not ‘allowed to speak as his proxy had been silenced.’
‘I was allowed as a visitor which was enough,’ Mr Gaillard said. ‘I saw that Metgasco is going backwards really fast.
‘The shareholders are bickering among themselves ad nauseam, they tried to roll Mr Henderson and Mr Heath at the AGM and only narrowly missed out,’ Mr Gaillard said.
Mr Gaillard said that structured top down organisations cannot cope with the grass roots nature of LTG.
‘The resistance that is shown will eventually see these fossil “fools” go backwards out of our country,’ Mr Gaillard said.
Mr Gaillard mentioned the ‘half frack’ completed by Metgasco at the Casino airport well.
‘They didn’t do stage two because the well pipes were leaking and have been leaking for the whole life of the well,’ Mr Gaillard said.
‘You may also have seen footage by Alan Roberts where 200-metres of drill string pipe had been sent up as an explosion out of that well.’
Mr Gaillard quoted engineering Professor Anthony Ingraffea from Cornell University who has extensive experience in mining operations.
‘He says, “three to six per cent of the pipes fail immediately, sixty per cent fail after 20 years and they all fail eventually”.’
Mr Gaillard said ‘when we get the spin that it is all safe we know that is not true. Their pipes will break down.’
Mr Gaillard urged people who have experience in non-violent direct action to support the resistance at the Pilliga.
‘There are three drill rigs out there and huge ponds being dug for holding ponds which we all know are evaporation ponds,’ he said.