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October 16, 2021

Premier refuses to back calls for gas-free region

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Meg Neilson presents premier Mike Baird with a selection of produce from the region.
Meg Nielsen presents premier Mike Baird with a selection of produce from the region.

Darren Coyne

NSW Premier Mike Baird has today refused to be drawn on calls to declare the northern rivers a gasfield free region.

With thousands expected to flood into Lismore tomorrow for a rally declaring the region gasfield free, the premier arrived at the Ballina/Byron Gateway Airport this morning to be greeted by members of the Gasfield Free Northern Rivers group.

GFNR coordinator Dean Draper presented the premier with a letter inviting him to attend tomorrow’s rally, while Meg Nielsen gave Mr Baird a basket of the region’s produce.

The letter pointed out that there are now 142 self-declared gasfield free communities in the region, with an average of 95.3 per cent of respondents declaring they want a gasfield-free region.

‘From the Clarence valley to the Queensland border and west to the ranges, our communities have made clear their determination to keep our land and water free of invasive gasfields.

‘As we stood together at Bentley, so too will we stand together again if any gas company attempts to force their operations on other unwilling communities.

‘With the opposition now endorsing our call to be a gasfield free region, we are calling on you, as leader of the NSW government, to honour the region’s wishes and to commit immediately to cancelling all gas licences.’

Mr Baird said he would be unable to attend the rally, and when asked directly by the Echonedaily whether he would cancel gas licences in the region, the premier refused to give a straight answer, instead blaming Labor for ‘the mess’ they left behind.

‘There is an audit being undertaken by the energy minister and we have shown already that we are prepared to act,’ he said.

‘Obviously this is symptomatic of the mess we inherited from Labor where licences were issued without any scrutiny and without any protection for the community.

‘The minister recently announced a suspension of all new licences while we get the house in order.’

Mr Baird said his government would shortly be releasing its gas policy, which would be based upon recommendations from the NSW chief scientist.

He said the government was ‘proud’ to be making its decisions based on scientific evidence.

‘We won’t be supporting anything which is done without the appropriate rigour and scientific analysis.

‘Ultimately if you want to support gas and energy provision in this state which we do, it should only be done if there are no impacts, long term, on the environment and water.’

Mr Baird accused NSW Labor of putting out mixed messages with regards to coal seam gas.

‘Listening to them is like listening to Lance Armstrong speaking out against drugs in sport,’ he said.

‘They left this state in a mess. They issued licences from one end to the other and they had no control, no protections, it was a free for all.

‘We have to clean up the mess and that’s exactly what we’re doing and we certainly won’t be listening to any policies that they put forward because you simply can’t trust them.’



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  1. Does Baird not realise that it’s his governments job to fix up the ness that’s been left behind? That that’s what all governments have to do? His government reissued the bodgy licences! And can anyone ask him how he reconciles trying to blame it all on Labor when it was a coalition government that drew up all the licence areas and issued the first stinking licences? Yes, it was our own Ian Causley who did that when he was state coalition mining minister. I don’t know my history well enough to know whether this was before, during or after the time he and coalition minister Wal Murray were found by ICAC to have created an environment where corruption could flourish. How about one of your journo’s does a bit of research and runs a story on the REAL history of this friggin mess while we get on with trying to fix the future for our kids and grand kids. Baird sucks. I’m sick of the lies. Not happy with Labor either but at least this new Labor guard are accepting responsibility, unlike Baird who probably doesn’t even know what the truth is.

  2. Why wasn’t the rally on sat on the front page of the echo….or anywhere that I could see? 🙁
    Ps Baird. Mixed messages? Nah we all know what the truth is, we are not that easily lead. Smoke and mirrors smoke and mirrors. We are not falling for it.

  3. Well Mr. Baird, nothing could be easier than to sort out this ‘Mess’.
    All that needs to be done is to prohibit all CSG operations, until it can be ‘Scientifically’ proven that this technology is safe, that there will be NO unintended consequences ,either now or in the future and all involved be made collectively and personally responsible for any damage to property,groundwater or the environment as a whole.
    Over to you Mr. Baird.

  4. “We have to clean up the mess and that’s exactly what we’re doing and we certainly won’t be listening to any policies that they put forward because you simply can’t trust them”, states our Premier. Then perhaps Premier Baird might care to listen to the 95% + of local people who have read the science, who have listened to the words of those with firsthand experience of this insatiable, toxic and corrupt industry, and who have made it very clear that they simply will not accept this industry.

    The time for pointing fingers at who previously did what has passed. The Premier, current holder of the reins, must take charge, grab that toxic industry’s bull by the horns, and make responsible decisions about our environment, our food chain, and our health. Most importantly, he must act. Now! What will people be saying when this government is no longer in power? The research was done, the facts were clear, they did nothing to stop our land and lives becoming toxic?

    “Ultimately if you want to support gas and energy provision in this state which we do, it should only be done if there are no impacts, long term, on the environment and water”, states Premier Baird.

    Premier, the Chief Scientist’s findings demonstrate CSG mining to be an industry fraught with risks. “It” clearly shouldn’t “be done”! The buck stops with you, Premier Baird.

  5. If you believe the lies of Abbott and his crew of right-wing hate mongers, welcome to Baird.

    He is just another version of the Liberal lie that is whispered to the Nationals who then dance about spreading that lie!

    Baird is of the same cloth that gave Australia Abbott and Morrison and Bishop x 2!


  6. Mike Baird was always rampantly pro CSG. Before the Liberal party was elected to power he openly promoted the pro-CSG stance of the party. This occurred during a Stateline debate with Eric Roozendaal. As Shadow Treasurer, Baird stated that the Liberals intended to ramp up CSG production to match and then surpass QLD.

  7. What a tosser!. Mike also said he would be adding his support to the rail trail, Also saying it would create jobs. the way he singled it out like that is nothing but misleading. Trains are much better than this region as they take the pressure off the roads and give everyone public transport. My grandmother is very old, and the thought of any aged persons using that trail is unrealistic. Marie Lawton obviously doesn’t know how fast those scooters actually go (Very slowly indeed) The Aged and disabled don’t want something that would take them 3 hours to get to Byron, no, they want something that gets you to Byron and back in 20mins or from Mullumbimby to Byron and back in 10mins e.g. the 100 year old CPH Railmotor run by the rail motor society back in 2003.

    Build the rail trail, and exterminate any chance of us getting our transport back, also sacrifice more and more forests to full our never ending need for better roads and ultimately just fill the Northern Rivers with Toll ways.
    Its not like we are going to get our trains back after the trail, as once its a trail, there is pretty much a big ‘FOR SALE’ sign covering the whole corridor!. That is why so many people are in favour of the rail trail, because they want all the land in the heart of Byron, Lismore, Mullumbimby and Murwillumbah to get sold. So they can open their tourist businesses and bath in money while we rot in hell with our clogged roads and destroyed tracks and environment.

  8. Here in Gloucester where my family live AGL is pushing really hard to establish a big CSG project. As far as I can see the Baird government is giving the the company every assistance it can including extensive police presence with obvious close liaison with the gas company. We have had really nasty scenes here with huge security guards manhandling aged women and then making out that these frail and elderly ladies were the aggressors. I saw a very small male protestor seized and dragged by police [maybe six] across a section of rough gravel road, roughly handcuffed and stuffed into a mobile lockup. There are many police cars and vans here every day.
    Politicians continue to play the tag team blame game to distract people while they continue the job of creating as many gas fields as they can. I don’t trust coalition or labour politicians at all. There might be a good one in there somewhere but sure aren’t making themselves heard. This CSG epidemic is a tragedy. The people of the Northern Rivers shine a ray of hope on our horrible situation in Gloucester.


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