The NSW Labor Party has promised to make the northern rivers region a coal seam gas (CSG) free zone if it wins the next election.
Delegates at the party’s state conference in Sydney on Sunday backed a motion to declare the north coast of NSW and the northern rivers CSG free.
The ban would cover Lismore, Ballina, Clarence and Tweed electorates.
Former federal Labor MP Janelle Saffin told the conference, held in Sydney’s Town Hall, that the motion aligned the party’s platform with community opposition to CSG mining.
Lismore election candidate Isaac Smith and federal Richmond MP Justine Elliott spoke in favour of the ban, as did Tweed Labor candidate Ron Goodman.
The motion comes after the NSW government in May suspended Metgasco’s drilling licence in Bentley, just outside Lismore.
The suspension came just days before thousands of protesters were expected to form a blockade at the drill site and up to 800 police officers were detailed to monitor their activities.
Metgasco has filed for a judicial review in the Supreme Court.
Tweed Labor candidate Ron Goodman said Tweed voters now had a clear choice to protect the Tweed’s future.
‘A vote for Labor will be a vote to protect the North Coast from the coal seam gas industry, while a vote for the pro-gas Nationals will be a vote to give CSG the green light,’ Mr Goodman said.
‘Labor cares about the jobs of people in the Tweed and will stand firm to protect them, while National Party MPs want to put our future at risk by backing the CSG industry.
‘Only Labor will stand up for a CSG-free North Coast. The choice is clear.’
Mr Goodman said the protection of the region from the ravages of coal seam gas was vital to protect jobs in tourism and agriculture.
‘In 2013 more than one million visitors came to the Tweed, pumping many millions of dollars in to the local economy. That is what is at stake.’
Greens NSW candidate Adam Guise welcomed the NSW Labor party’s vote but pointed out that the Greens had been opposing GSG for years.
‘Congratulations to Labor for taking a policy position on coal seam gas that acknowledges the overwhelming community opposition to this invasive industry on the North Coast, he said.