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Byron Shire
April 12, 2021

Ballina Council calls for region to be gasfield free

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A stitch in time: Knitting Nannas Val Gilmore, Rosemarie Kerrie and Debbie Clement outside Ballina Shire Council chambers.
A stitch in time: Knitting Nannas Val Gilmore, Rosemarie, Kerrie and Debbie Clement outside Ballina Shire Council Chambers.

 Darren Coyne

The Ballina Shire Council will write to New South Wales premier Mike Baird asking that the northern rivers be declared gasfield free.

The motion from Greens councillor Jeff Johnson called on Mr Baird to revoke all petroleum exploration licences covering the northern rivers region.

Cr Johnson argued at today’s meeting that the council should send a clear message that gasfields were ‘contradictory to the major industries of the region: namely tourism and agriculture’.

He said clauses in the existing licences would ensure that the government would not be subjected to compensation claims.

‘There are a number of PELs covering the entire region and these need to be immediately revoked owing to the incompatible nature of invasive gasfields with the region’s major industries,’ he said.

‘We can learn from the experience in Tara and other southeast Queensland towns that have experienced health issues, water contamination, leaking gas wells and huge drops in local property values.’

But the motion was not unanimous, with conservative councillors Keith Johnson, Ben Smith and Paul Worth voting against.

Cr Smith said, ‘I certainly don’t support coal seam gas but I’ve got no problem with conventional gas’.

‘We use it every day in our cars, for transport, cooking. The issue I have with the motion is that it’s anti-gas, which is not practical with regards to the way our society is,’ he said.

He said  that while he had issues with fracking and CSG, conventional gas mining that satisfied environmental guidelines should not be ruled out.

Cr Keith Johnson said he agreed ‘word for word’, saying an absolute embargo approach to solving problems doesn’t work’.

He also rejected ‘the assertion there were 1,000 riot squad waiting to jump on Bentley’.

Mayor David Wright assured Cr Johnson that he personally knew the caterers who were going to feed the police, and that food had been ordered for the operation.

Cr Keith Williams also pointed out that Southern Cross University had been approached to cater to a force of 800 police.

‘We can’t be half pregnant on this. We’re either protecting the northern rivers from gasfields or we’re not,’ he said.

‘Our community has been absolutely clear that it doesn’t want to be home to gasfields … and while there might be arguments for gasfields elsewhere we are talking about the northern rivers,’ he said.

Members of the Knitting Nannas attending the meeting said they were pleased the council was taking a stand.

Val Gilmore summed it up.

‘As grandmothers it’s our responsibility to ensure our children and grandchildren have clean air, water and sustainable food for the future,’ she said.


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  1. The council are elected to serve the people of the electorate, and represent their interests. Any personal stance on an issue, is inappropriate.
    It is not rocket science to realise that any sort of mining is inappropriate in a district like the Northern Rivers. CSG mining companies are only interested in access to obscene amounts of water to ply their environmentally destructive industry….Australia is a big country….they have no need to wreak their destruction on areas like the northern rivers in pursuit of their aims.

    I laud the council for it’s responsible action in calling on the premier to declare northern rivers gasfield free. But rue the fact that it was not unanimous. Perhaps those who think it is ok, could do more personal research before putting an entire community and environment present and future, at risk.

    I would point out that France has banned the CSG industry from their entire country, and not without reason. In every part of the world where it has NOT been banned, the results have been unacceptably injurious to the people and the environment in those areas.

  2. Congratulations Ballina Council!Good to see another Northern Rivers Council voting in support of our region. CSG and the Northern Rivers just don’t mix. The people of the region are certainly united on this issue. If we speak and act together the future is starting to look good.

  3. Well done to the council for understanding the needs of the area – now to see if Mike Bard will support the locals or his mates in the mining industry


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