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Byron Shire
May 23, 2024

CSG shapes as major issue for state govt election

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Benny Zable is a firm opponent of the coal seam gas industry (file pic).
Benny Zable is a firm opponent of the coal seam gas industry (file pic).

Coal seam gas mining is shaping up as a major issue for the next state government election, with candidates jostling for the moral high ground on the controversial issue.

Following news that the Liberal/National government had renewed AGL’s licence to allow fracking in Gloucester, both Greens and ALP candidates have criticised the move.

But not without taking a few swipes at one another.

Northern rivers Greens candidates Adam Guise (Lismore), Tamara Smith (Ballina) and Dawn Walker (Upper House), joined together to ‘call out’ the old parties on unconventional gas mining.

‘The move by the ALP to ban only CSG, and only in the Northern Rivers, is disappointing and smacks of political opportunism,’ Tweed resident and Upper House Greens candidate Dawn Walker said.

‘While many in the community would welcome the banning of unconventional gas operations anywhere in NSW, the fact that the ALP have limited this policy to the Northern Rivers suggests this is more about politics than good sense,’ she said.

‘If it represented a genuine change of heart from the party that originally brought invasive gas exploration to NSW, then the ALP would also be standing up for the residents of Gloucester who are about to have fracking within a few hundred metres of their homes.’

Lismore Greens candidate Adam Guise said residents of Gloucester were asking the ALP and the Liberal National government, ‘where’s our protection from industrialised gas drilling?’

‘Why aren’t National Party members like Thomas George and George Souris pushing for the same two km buffer zones that apply to marginal electorates in Western Sydney?

‘Why aren’t the Nationals calling for the protection of agricultural industries such as the dairy, sugar and macadamia industries? Have the Nationals betrayed their communities to the lure of the mighty mining dollar?

‘In contrast to both the ALP and the Liberal National government, the Greens have policies which protect farmland, water and communities from invasive gasfields wherever they are in NSW.

‘The Greens’ policy is not one motivated by political opportunism, but by the firm belief that food and water security is critical for healthy and prosperous communities.’

Ballina Greens candidate Tamara Smith described the resolution passed at the recent ALP conference as ‘a dog’s breakfast’.

‘It talks about both a moratorium and a ban, as if they are interchangeable. It talks about CSG in one breath and then talks about unconventional gas in another, which gives no protection from tight sands gas drilling which was planned at Bentley,’ Ms Smith said.

‘What communities really want is lasting protection. That’s why the Greens seek to have gas licences covering the Northern Rivers revoked, so that people do not have to continually fight to protect the region they love.’

Meanwhile, ALP Tweed candidate Ron Goodman and Lismore candidate Isaac Smith are also critical of the Gloucester decision.

Mr Goodman said the State Government’s National Party-led crusade for coal seam gas mining by whatever method necessary had been exposed.

‘Geoff Provest and the Nationals like to pretend there is no coal seam gas in the Tweed, and Mr Provest even told a media outlet last week that “there is no licence”,’ Mr Goodman said.

‘That is a complete and deliberate falsehood. There remains a petroleum exploration licence, PEL 445, that covers large parts of the Northern Rivers, including Clarrie Hall Dam and its catchment area.

‘With the Nationals government approving fracking in other locations, that shows there is still a direct and immediate threat to Tweed’s water supplies and environment.

‘The National Party should stop telling lies and get behind Labor’s policy of a gasfield-free Northern Rivers.’

Lismore candidate Isaac Smith said areas west of Lismore were also under direct threat because of PEL 13 and PEL 16, which could lead to coal seam gas mining.

‘Nationals leader Andrew Stoner is on the record saying the Nationals are in lockstep with the Liberals when it comes to coal seam gas mining,’ Mr Smith said.

‘Labor is leading on representing the North Coast community on this issue, and we will fight the Nationals and Lismore MP Thomas George every day to ensure the North Coast remains gas-field free.’

Lismore MP Thomas George recently conceded that the coal seam gas issue could impact on his ability to win a fifth term in government, at the time he announced that he would stand again as a candidate for the National Party in the March election next year.

Asked if CSG would be a significant factor, Mr George said there ‘was no doubt the CSG debate has certainly played a significant impact on me personally, the electorate and the party’.

‘But let me assure people I’m not a single-issue person. I’ve made appropriate representations to the ministers, the party … and I continue to represent the wishes of the electorate,’ he said.

Mr George conceded under questioning that he has not spoken in parliament about CSG, nor turned up at the Bentley blockade.

‘Since being elected as deputy speaker I haven’t spoken on a number of issues because I’ve tried to remain neutral,’ he said.

‘My representations are not on the front page or on television. They’ve always been done behind the scenes and I’ve been no different in this CSG debate.

‘I’ve listened and taken forward views openly and honestly.’


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6 COMMENTS

  1. CSG, indeed all unconventional gas mining should be banned everywhere. The companies have never been honest about the risks and dangers involved and the politicians have allowed themselves to be swayed by propaganda and false promises about massive profits for the economy. Any massive profits will go overseas and only the environmental degradation and the costs will stay in Aus.
    Saving the Northern Rivers stinks as much as the idea of saving Prime Ag Land and some towns. It is blatantly corrupt political opportunism.
    And speaking of political opportunism, the way the Greens have dishonestly sought to take control of and credit for the anti-CSG battle is a perfect example. A Royal Commission is required into how this industry got started in this country, and the Greens role in that start should be closely examined. The Greens and Lock The Gate are attempting to rewrite history judging from the bogus claims on Australian Story’s program about Drew Hutton last week.

  2. The only party in a position to claim the high moral ground on this is the Greens. Both Labor and the coalition have proven themselves not to be trusted.

    • As a victim of the Queensland gas fields, and as the organiser of the first anti-CSG protest and blockade I strongly disagree with your claim that The Greens are anywhere near the high moral ground on this issue, they don’t even have a map that would lead them to it. The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is the map and non-violence is the key to the high moral ground, and if you look at how this campaign started you will see that The Queensland Greens lied and used violence to take control of the campaign. But maybe you can’t take the truth. Who abandoned us here in Queensland to this fate will focusing attention on NSW where so little is happening? The Greens sold us out here, and when the time comes they will sell you out too.

  3. Dawn Walker is right. If unconventional gas is not good for the Northern Rivers then it should apply across the landscape and hopefully the ALP will include this in their policies they bring to the election. We need representation to be up front and not behind closed doors Mr. George. If you stand with your community then come out and stand with us. Stand up and speak for us in Parliament. I saw Dawn Walker at the Bentley Blockade and after talking with her I feel she is sincere in her wanting the best for the Tweed. I talked with Issac Smith at Primex and he seems sincere about no to unconventional gas mining. Adam Guise is knowledgeable and is definitely standing up for the community! We know the Nationals agenda and if they are voted in again it will be really suss. They are trying to distract landholders saying they will take away vegetation legislation so it can be open slather on our native vegetation. It seems the Nationals want to turn the region into an industrial gasfield with no native vegetation and the native threatened animals that live there. This vote is probably the most important vote we will have to determine what kind of future we have. We can have jobs in renewables and transition to clean energy and give incentives to landholders to integrate permaculture design into their practices or an industrial gasfield that leaves us with toxic water and landscape and localised extinctions of native threatened animals like our beloved Koala. Be prepared for the Nationals and Liberals scare campaigns and use of ‘Radical Extremists, or Greenie dole bludgers’ I think those that have been National Party or Liberal voters in the past are switched on now. Bring on the election!

  4. Funny how the ALP candidates are critical of the ‘Gloucester decision’, when their own party’s policy supports gas extraction in that area! What a joke!

  5. LOL (as in laugh out loud)! – Thomas George attempting to justify his total lack of representation of his electorate in their overwhelming opposition to CSG/unconventional gas exploration in the Northern Rivers by standing behind his role as deputy speaker, therefore wanting to be neutral, and his behind-the-scenes representations – WHAT A LAUGH! – if it wasn’t so serious a matter and such a misrepresentation of what the community wants.

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