Last week saw further chaos in NSW parliament as disreputable politicians either resigned or ignored their code of conduct over bribes, slush funds and donation disclosures.
But despite the low political ebb, a group of Bentley residents travelled to Sydney in the hope of speaking to politicians about their concerns over unconventional gas exploration in their area.
Former Byron Shire mayor and now upper house MLC, Jan Barham (Greens), told Echonetdaily, ‘I was very pleased to be able to assist the delegation while they were in the parliament and encourage other MPs to hear the locals’ fears about their future if Metgasco proceeds.
‘The Christian Democrats and Robert Borsack from the Shooters and Fishers Party did meet with the Bentley delegation and respectfully heard their side of the story,’ Ms Barham said.
‘Many ALP and Coalition members also met with the Bentley farmers, but It was extremely disappointing that the premier did not take the time to sit down and listen to the concerned citizens of Bentley.’
Ms Barham said that many MPs raised questions and spoke about the Bentley blockade and the use of police against the protectors.
‘The new premier is now aware of the broad community opposition to CSG on the north coast and the requests for him to review the situation,’ she said.
‘The government is claiming that the Metgasco’s Bentley operation is a lawful, low key project that should be allowed to proceed and that the blockade is unlawful.
‘But many people have concerns that the Bentley exploration approval is the Trojan horse of industrial scale gas production for the north coast.
‘The community are savvy enough to realise that it’s crucial to stop this now, so that the sustainable future that locals want is possible.
‘As I raised in an adjournment speech last week, Mr Baird’s inaugural speech in 2007 stated that he expected the Liberal Party to lead the restoration of a community-based party in this place.
‘He said at the time: “We should never be ashamed of listening to our conscience nor to our community—in essence this is why we are here”.
‘Premier Baird should listen to the community and reverse the licence approval and call off the police intervention on a peaceful, democratic response to an unwanted industrialisation of the north coast.
‘This issue will be a test for the new premier and the government and will impact on next years election.’
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