Video Sharon Shostak
Photos Darren Coyne
Organisers of the Gasfield Free event in Lismore on Saturday have described the day as a huge success. Police estimated the numbers at 5,000 while organisers put it as high as 8,000.
The day included a welcome to country, a street march in the middle of town and several speeches.
Gasfield Free coordinator and rally organiser Elly Bird said, ‘The determination and commitment of the community of the northern rivers to remain gasfield free is undeniable.
‘This community is saying loud and clear that they want full cancellation of the licences across the region, and nothing less will serve.
‘Today’s event makes it very clear that opposition to invasive gasfields in the region is not going away.
‘The NSW government needs to take decisive action and join Labor and the Greens in making a commitment to permanently protect our region.’
Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell said, ‘We sent a strong message to governments and candidates before the March election. Our communities do not want unconventional mining here – not now, not ever. So mining companies may as well pack up and leave.’
The rally also saw the launch of four large signs that will be erected at each of the main arterial road gateways to the region, welcoming all travellers to ‘Gasfield Free Northern Rivers – protected by community.’
‘There are now 142 self-declared Gasfield Free communities in this region,’ said Aidan Ricketts, spokesperson for Gasfield Free Northern Rivers, an alliance of community groups.
‘The survey question was: “Do you want your neighbourhood Gasfield Free?” To this simple question an overwhelming 95.3 per cent said yes.
‘With over 31,000 respondents, these community surveys show the strength of our resistance.”
‘We have mass-movement dynamics here. The region won’t cop it.
‘We’ve shown we can mount massive, effective nonviolent actions. Do they really want to attempt mining by martial law?’ Mr Ricketts asked.
NSW premier Mike Baird and Lismore’s National Party MP Thomas George were invited to the rally but did not attend.
When asked directly by Echonedaily on Friday whether he would cancel gas licences in the region, Mr Baird refused to give a straight answer, instead blaming Labor for ‘the mess’ they left behind.
Following are a selection of photos from the day.
See more photos from The Tree Faerie.