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Byron Shire
September 21, 2021

Labor leader wants public election funding

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NSW Labor leader John Robertson chats with members of the Knitting Nannas Against Gas group. (Darren Coyne)
NSW Labor leader John Robertson chats with members of the Knitting Nannas Against Gas group. (Darren Coyne)

Darren Coyne

NSW Labor leader John Robertson wants elections fully funded by the public to prevent a ‘donations for decisions’ culture.

Mr Robertson’s comments followed a call by the Greens yesterday for the banning of political donations from mining companies.

During a visit to Lismore to announce that the northern rivers region would be declared gas-free if Labor won the next election, Mr Robertson said the Greens were “behind the eight ball when it comes to donation reform”.

‘I’ve already said publicly that I support the full public funding of elections in NSW to bring an end the “donations for decisions” culture that we’ve seen laid out at the ICAC,” he told Echonetdaily.

‘If the Greens are serious about meaningful donation reform they will support Labor’s push for the full public funding of NSW elections..’

Meanwhile, Mr Robertson said the decision to declare the region gas-free was recognition of the strong community opposition to CSG and unconventional gas mining, as shown by the Bentley blockade.

Such a ban would apply to Ballina, Byron, Kyogle, Lismore, Tweed and Richmond Valley shire council areas.

He was joined at the announcement yesterday by the North Coast Labor team of Isaac Smith (Lismore), Paul Spooner (Ballina) and Ron Goodman (Tweed).

Meanwhile, Gasfield Free Northern Rivers, an alliance of anti-gas groups, welcomed the announcement but said they were disappointed that the Clarence Valley was excluded.

‘The Clarence has watercourses, natural areas, and productive farm land that is just as valuable as the rest of the northern rivers and we are upset that we have been left out of Labor’s plans,’ Clarence Alliance Against Gas spokesperson Lynette Eggins said.

‘Large areas of the Clarence are covered by PELs (petroleum exploration licences) and our community deserves protection too. Labor needs to have a good look at a map and see just how big this region is.’

Knitting Nanas at yesterday’s announcement also urged Mr Robertson to address those concerns.

‘I’m happy to sit down with people in the Clarence as well and talk to them about what is going on in that region,’ he said, but maintained that yesterday’s announcement was about the northern rivers.

‘I’ve spent a lot of time speaking with tourism operators, agricultural producers, as well locals, and its very clear why this region should be a no go zone.’

If elected, he said Labor had promised to introduce a program to identify all water catchments across NSW, ‘and once we could identify those we’d look to ban exploration and extraction in those regions as well’.

Until then, everything was on ‘pause’.

He said Labor had a long tradition of protecting the environment of the northern rivers, referring to 1982 when Neville Wran protected rainforests in the region which were now world-heritage listed.

Meanwhile, Gas Free Northern Rivers spokesperson Dean Draper said it was high time ‘all our politicians took substantive action to support these communities”.

‘We want action from the Nationals on this too, Thomas George, Don Page, Geoff Provest and Chris Gulaptis should be demanding proper protection for their constituents,’ he said.

‘In the closely settled northern rivers, nothing less than cancellation across the whole region will provide adequate protection from this risky industry.’

‘Our community will be marching again on November 1 in Lismore calling on the government to cancel all gas licences covering the northern rivers.

‘All candidates will be invited to attend, but only if they commit to supporting our call to cancel the licences.’

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  1. Dean, have you asked all MPs for what you want?. Marching in public is not addressing every MP directly or giving them a chance to respond. Communication in the right way will be more productive. Marching will only raise public awareness.

  2. Does this mean the end of union funding for the ALP? It amazes me also this bloke and his political mates are also running around saying there will be no compensation to CSG companies who forked out money to buy licences from the ALP in the first place when they were in government.
    Page MP Janelle Saffin did the same trying to distance herself in the last Federal election from CSG. While I say well done Janelle it did not get her re-elected.
    Sounds very Obeidly strange to me indeed these politicians trying to play political chess when it was the same NSW ALP government, again, who granted the CSG licences in the first place in northern NSW.
    The clanger today was on ABC North Coast Radio in an interview with ALP Opposition “Minister” for the North Coast Walt Seccord trying to draw parallels with CSG licences to the community tolerating licences for brothels…….


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