Moves by the NSW Greens and Labor in state parliament to ban CSG mining on the northern rivers were voted down by the coalition after a heated and marathon debate on the government’s controversial new ‘reset’ policy which ended early yesterday morning.
Labor took aim at the National Party in particular, given all four northern rivers seats held by their MPs, saying the Nats in the Upper House joined the Liberals, Shooters and Fishers and Christian Democrats to defeat a series of proposed amendments to ban CSG in some areas and cancel existing exploration licences, including north coast miner Metgasco’s one which is currently under suspension.
Labor’s north coast spokesman Walt Secord told Echonetdaily that his party’s two amendments to ‘specifically protect the north coast’ were ‘killed off’ by the coalition in a 20-17 vote in the Upper House.
He said the vote showed the ‘Nationals are 100 per cent in support of gas companies and not the community’ with the introduction of the Petroleum (Onshore) Amendment (NSW Gas Plan) Bill 2014, which had ‘signalled their intention to expand harmful CSG across the northern rivers’.
The Greens say the failure of its own amendments showed the government’s new gas strategy was ‘just a ploy to get them through the next election’.
Greens mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said he questioned whether the government was genuine about pressing ‘reset’ on the CSG industry after they used their numbers to vote down the amendments, which would have banned coal seam gas in the Sydney water catchment, cancelled 14 expired petroleum exploration licences and seven production licence applications.
Mr Buckingham said coalition MPs were ‘running around saying the Sydney water catchment should be protected, and others such as Thomas George, Chris Gulaptis and Kevin Anderson are saying that there local areas should be protected’.
‘However, when it came to actually taking serious action, the government squibbed it and voted the amendments down,’ he said.
Mr Secord said the National Party ‘voted against moves that would safeguard and protect the North Coast from CSG, but instead decided to ensure CSG mining would continue under the Liberal-Nationals government’.
Labor’s amendments sought to ban CSG and unconventional gas from the Clarence Valley to the Queensland border.
In his speech, Mr Secord was scathing of the ‘pro-CSG National MPs – Chris Gulaptis (Clarence), Geoff Provest (Tweed), Don Page (Ballina) and Thomas George (Lismore)’ and ‘their pro-CSG expansion agenda’.
To view the full debate, visit http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/hansart.nsf/V3Key/LC20141118065?open&refNavID=HA8_1
Mr Buckingham said the Greens ‘moved some quite reasonable amendments to protect Sydney’s special water catchment and cancel expired or other pending licences’.
‘The government showed its gas strategy announcement is all smoke, no fire and just a ploy to get them through the next election,’ he said.
Mr Buckingham said there were 14 expired petroleum exploration licences in NSW and ‘if the government was serious about cleaning up the coal seam gas mess, they would have backed the Greens amendment to cancel these expired licences.
‘There are seven pending petroleum production licence applications in NSW, including one from Metgasco in the northern rivers, as well as other applications from Santos at Narrabri and AGL at Gloucester. The Greens moved for these applications to be expunged.
’It’s clear the government is narrow-casting, trying to placate local concerns, while their master plan is to roll out coal seam gas across NSW after the election is done and dusted.
‘Voters should judge politicians and parties not on what they say just before an election, but how they vote on the floor of parliament,’ Mr Buckingham said.