Gasfield Free Northern Rivers has welcomed yesterday’ news from energy minister Anthony Roberts that the Petroleum Exploration Licence (PEL) buyback scheme will be extended for three more months.
While stopping short of saying the scheme, which has failed to purchase any northern rivers licences since the state election, was a stunt the group says that the community expects the issue to be resolved soon.
MP Thomas George’s comments on Tuesday that ‘it could take years’ doesn’t meet community expectations according to Gasfield Free Northern Rivers coordinator Dean Draper, who says ‘there is an urgent need to resolve the issue now.’
‘After years of fighting to remain gasfield free, our community has grown weary of the promises and inaction by the government to protect us from invasive gas mining.’ Mr Draper said
‘It seemed to be very urgent one week before the election when Thomas George and Troy Grant announced a promise to buyback a licence, but now it seems even that’s no longer a priority, with Thomas George telling us it could be years away,’ he added.
‘There are seven licences that cover the northern rivers and we need to know the government is working towards removing them all and when that is going to happen. We need certainty, we need protection and we need it now.
‘Why is it so hard to get transparency in the process or any firm commitment from the government now that the election is over? This has gone on too long. Our community wants to get back to their lives and to have the threat of dangerous gas mining hanging over our heads does not allow that to happen.
‘We’re counting on the Nationals MPs Thomas George and Chris Gulaptis whose electorates are almost completely covered with these gas mining licences, we’re counting on them to communicate with us, to let us know what they are doing and when we will be protected.’ said Mr Draper