The Greens have slammed both the coalition government and Labor for voting down a bill which would have given landholders the right to say no to coal and gas mining on their land and to ban fracking,
Greens Candidate for Richmond, Dawn Walker, said Labor joined with the government last week in the senate to shut down the Greens attempt to give landowners a say over mining on their land ‘despite strong community support’.
But Labor’s federal Richmond MP Justine Elliot deflected the criticism, saying land access ‘is within the jurisdiction and responsibility of state governments’, and that landowners should be allowed to refuse CSG mining on their properties.
Mrs Elliot blamed the National Party for expanding coal-seam gas across NSW and that state Labor had a CSG moratorium bill before the NSW upper house ‘that would protect our region from this industry’.
‘It is the National’s pro-CSG expansion agenda across the north coast that threatens our way of life: they have broken all their election promises about CSG licences and they can’t be trusted,’ the MP said.
But Ms Walker said voting down the Greens bill was ‘another disappointing example of Labor and the Nationals ignoring the voices of hundreds of people and organisations that contributed to this inquiry, with 95 per cent of them supporting the bill’.
‘Rather than allow landholders the right to say no to coal and gas mining on their land and to ban fracking, Labor and the Nationals stood with the big mining companies,’ Ms Walker said.
‘The balance of influence in Canberra at the moment is not with the landholders but is hopelessly skewed towards big coal and gas.
‘It’s disappointing that Labor and the Nationals can sit and listen to the impassioned plea from our farmers and landholders but at the end of the day they side with the big mining companies who have given them large political donations.
‘Farmers, like our landholders in the northern rivers just cannot compete with this influence.
‘I will continue to stand strong with local farmers, traditional owners and northern rivers councils, who want to protect their land, water and climate.
‘Our representatives in Canberra need to listen to the community instead of their big mining donors, and transition away from polluting fossil fuels towards a clean energy future,’ Ms Walker said.
The war of words comes as Lock the Gate says NSW is set to release new areas to CSG exoploration and that farmland and water catchments are still not safe.
Last week, the government launched a Strategic Release Framework for Coal and Petroleum, which will reopen the state to new applications for coal seam gas exploration and harmonise the release processes for coal and gas exploration titles.
But Lock the Gate Alliance says that the government has squibbed on setting hard constraints against coal seam gas anywhere but the Hunter Valley horse breeding and winegrowing lands, and that critical farmland and precious water resources in the rest of the state will now once again be under threat.
Lock the Gate NSW Coordinator, Georgina Woods said that ‘with no hard constraints preventing licences being handed out in inappropriate areas, like Sydney’s drinking water catchment, the northern rivers, or important farmland, the government could grant new exploration licences over areas where they just spent tax-payers money buying back licences.’
‘Has the whole exercise been an expensive waste of time?’ she said.
‘The conflict and decimation being visited on communities like Maules Creek, Bylong, Wybong and Breeza by mining could be prevented with up front constraints on mining, but this program does not deliver.
‘We detect the sulphurous stench of the coal industry’s interference here.’