The Clarence Valley has now been included in NSW Labor’s promise to declare the northern rivers a gas-free region.
After copping criticism last month when it failed to include the Clarence in its plan for a CSG northern rivers region, NSW Labor announced the inclusion today in Grafton.
The Greens have accused the ALP of taking an ad hoc approach to the issue.
Under the policy, Labor will not allow new CSG exploration licenses, will refuse to grant CSG extraction licenses, reject renewals of existing licenses and refuse any applications to expand existing operations in the Northern Rivers.
Labor leader John Robertson – who copped a stern talking to from Knitting Nannas in Lismore for forgetting the Clarence – said the inclusion of the Clarence Valley local government area brought Labor’s policy in line with the decision of the NSW Labor conference in July this year.
Mr Robertson was joined by Shadow Minister for the North Coast Walt Secord and Labor’s candidate for Clarence Trent Gilbert in Grafton to make the formal announcement.
‘Last month I announced that Labor would ensure that the northern rivers region would be CSG and unconventional gas-free – and now the Clarence Valley will be included,’ Mr Robertson said.
‘The Northern Rivers is a unique region that is underpinned by its reputation as a pristine environment – and the Clarence Valley will now receive the same protections as the rest of the region under Labor.’
Today’s announcement followed some needling from the Greens on Monday that Labor had failed to include the Clarence.
In Lismore, Greens coal seam gas spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham promised that the Greens would push for a coal seam gas ban not just in the northern rivers, but across NSW.
Mr Buckingham said the Greens were totally opposed to CSG whereas the National party was pro-CSG, and Labor had failed to announce any protection for the Clarence valley.
In response to today’s announcement by Labor, Mr Buckingham said it was time that NSW Labor clarified its position on coal seam gas in relation to AGL’s Gloucester project and Santos’ Pilliga project.
‘With this new announcement, the Labor Party continue their ad hoc approach to coal seam gas that seems motivated more by political expediency than any philosophical or scientific concern,’ Mr Buckingham said.
‘John Robertson needs to put on the record what the Labor Party’s position is on fracking in the Gloucester Valley, as well as Santos’ coal seam gas proposal for the Narrabri area.
‘If he fails to do this then his ad hoc announcements in the Northern Rivers will be exposed as a cynical political exercise likely to be reversed once he is ensconced in power.
‘Just south of Gloucester, AGL are now fracking – a licence that the former Labor government granted. This is ground zero for coal seam gas in NSW right now, and John Robertson should inform the public as to whether Labor supports fracking in Gloucester.’
Meanwhile, Gasfield Free Northern Rivers is hosting a march on November 1 to call for the cancellation of all exploration and production licences in the northern rivers regions.
The event will kick off at 10am from Riverside Park in Lismore.
Organisers are hoping more than 7000 people will attend the march.