Residents in the northern rivers have been left to fend for themselves against current and future coal-seam gas (CSG) developments by National Party MPs for the region, NSW Labor says.
During a division in NSW Parliament yesterday, National Party MPs voted against Labor’s Coal Seam and Other Unconventional Gas Moratorium Bill 2015.
Shadow energy minister Adam Searle said the Bill ‘sets out in full the commitments Labor has made before, during and since the 2015 state election regarding coal seam gas in NSW’.
But National Party MPs for the northern rivers (Lismore MP Thomas George, Tweed MP Geoff Provest and Clarence MP and Parliamentary Secretary for the North Coast Chris Gulaptis) voted against the Bill aimed at protecting their electorates.
Mr Gulaptis told media this morning that his government was committed to a CSG-free northern rivers and that’s why it was buying back exploration licences such as PEL 445 and also negotiating with Metgasco over its licence in the region.
Earlier this year, Mr Gulaptis had publicly supported protecting the region from CSG developments, telling the Sydney Morning Herald that CSG was ‘the biggest issue of concern coming out of the election… it would be wrong to ignore it – the community wants a gas-field free Northern Rivers.’
Under Labor’s Bill, the Northern Rivers of NSW and the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area would be permanently protected.
Mr Searle said ‘there would also be permanent “no go” zones including core water catchments, residential areas, National Parks, wetlands, critical industry clusters and prime agricultural land’.
‘The hypocrisy of the National Party in the northern rivers is unbelievable,’ he said.
‘They need to back their constituents instead of just doing what they’re told by the Baird government.
‘Communities in the northern rivers have made it clear that CSG has no place there – unfortunately these MPs haven’t been able to understand the message.
‘Parliamentary Secretary for the North Coast Chris Gulaptis said it would be wrong to ignore the community opposition to CSG yet he voted against a bill that would have supported the community’s interests,’ Mr Searle said.
The Greens’ energy spokesman Jeremy Buckingham told media the government also failed to support their bill for ‘no-go’ zones for CSG in the regions to protect industries such as dairy, sugar cane, tourism and cultural and significant heritage areas.
Mr Buckingham said it was ‘bizarre’ that the government didn’t want to support the no-go zones as they had already approved them for the equine and viticulture industries in the Hunter Valley.