Following yesterday’s announcement from state Labor that it would end all CSG mining in the northern rivers if elected, the Greens have ratcheted up the debate by calling on political donations from mining and gas companies to be banned.
The party currently has a bill before NSW parliament aiming to do just that.
Labor leader John Robertson will be in Lismore today to announce the new ALP policy, which would see CSG exploration ended in Kyogle, Tweed, Byron, Lismore, Ballina and Richmond Valley LGAs.
But Greens candidate for Ballina, Tamara Smith has re-affirmed her party’s commitment to banning CSG mining across all of NSW, not just in our region.
‘From Bentley to the Pilliga, from Glenugie to Gloucester, the Greens policy is clear: we are opposed to unconventional gas mining anywhere in NSW and support a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy’ said Ms Smith.
‘We’ve seen the corrupting influence that donations from coal and gas companies have had on NSW politics thanks to recent ICAC enquiries.’
She said that before the last election, more than $50,000 was donated to the ALP by energy giant AGL while they were seeking approval to drill 110 coal seam gas wells near Gloucester.
‘Similarly, the National Party has received over $95,000 from Santos, Arrow Energy, Chevron and the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association since 2012,’ Ms Smith said.
‘How can regional communities take anything the Labor and National parties say about CSG seriously when they are still in the pockets of coal and gas companies?’ she queried.
NSW Greens mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham, a veteran of north coast CSG-free campaigns, echoed her sentiments.
‘While the Greens welcome the Labor Party’s announcement to ban unconventional gas in specific north coast council areas, it is disappointing that Labor are making their coal seam gas policy based on cynical electoral politics rather than basic principles of protecting land, water and communities everywhere in NSW,’ said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.
‘Labor were the party that unleashed coal seam gas across a third of NSW by issuing 39 exploration licences when they were last in power. Can Labor be trusted not to reverse this ban once the election is over?’ said Mr Buckingham.
Significantly, it appears that the new Labor Party policy has failed to protect residents living in Clarence Valley LGA, including those around Glenugie, near Grafton that was the site of a CSG community blockade in 2012-13.