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Byron Shire
June 16, 2021

Nationals ‘still spruiking CSG’ despite denial

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Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis says opposition to CSG in the northern rivers comes from people from 'all walks of life'.
Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis says the state energy department brochure promoting CSG to overseas investors was a departmental stuff-up.

Revelations that the Liberal-Nationals state government has been promoting the north coast to potential CSG investors has sparked a strong reaction from Labor and the Greens, despite an admission it was a departmental stuff-up.

Labor’s candidate for page Janelle Saffin says the Nationals have been ‘caught red handed saying one thing but doing something completely different’.

And the Greens candidate for Richmond Dawn Walker says the Nationals had ‘double crossed’ the northern rivers, and excuses of a stuff-up didn’t wear as it continued a trend of so-called ‘mistakes’.

But the Nationals’ Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis was quick to tell media that a state energy department brochure sent to overseas investors was made by mistake, and the government had issued a press release correcting it.

‘There will absolutely be no further petroleum or gas exploration or production on the northern rivers, full stop,’ Mr Gulaptis told the ABC this morning.

Throughout late last year, Mr Gulaptis and other north coast National MPs had claimed they had secured a CSG-free northern rivers, after a huge community campaign against CSG forced the government’s hand to buy out contentious licences.

Ms Saffin was blunt, saying the revelation despite the denial had ‘left the Nationals credentials in tatters’ and they ‘could no longer pretend that they supported a CSG-free region,when they have a state Nationals minister’s department promoting our area to investors to mine CSG’.

‘This comes on top of their state planning document that mapped and marked the northern rivers area as a CSG mining zone,’ she said.

‘It seems they are just biding their time believing that they can have CSG mining happen here, at some stage, the Nationals have been caught red handed – saying one thing but doing something completely different,’ Ms Saffin said.

Ms Walker said Nationals MPs Thomas George (Lismore) and north coast MLC Ben Franklin had issued media releases late last year which claimed credit for ‘getting rid’ of’ CSG in the region.

‘However, the XplorPak 2016 – showcasing NSW to international investors promotes coal seam gas resources in the Clarence-Morton Basin (situated in the northern rivers) as having “very good potential” and there being “potential for commercial opportunities”’, she said.

‘This comes after the potential for CSG was included in the Draft North Coast Regional Plan.

‘We’ve been double-crossed by the Nationals who have been pushing the potential for coal seam gas in the northern rivers to international investors, despite their promise that the northern rivers would be CSG-free.

‘If the government was genuine about protecting the northern rivers, then why was it included in this international investment package?

‘This revelation that coal seam gas is still on the government’s agenda will put CSG front and centre in this federal election campaign,’ Ms Walker said.

Mr Gulaptis told the ABC the coalition government had spent more than $20 million buying back CSG licences, emphasising there would be no more CSG industry on the north coast.

But Ms Saffin said ‘no spin can cover up this deception. You simply can’t just say oh sorry, I overlooked the State Planning documents and now a international investor document and have us believe you support a CSG-free region’.

‘Both documents support the development of new CSG mines,’ she said.

‘I advocated in the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party for take action to protect our water and led a working group on the matter.

‘This work resulted in the water trigger legislation for CSG and large coal mining operations that the current Liberal-Nationals Federal government has weakened.’

Ms Walker said that last year’s state election was ‘a referendum on coal seam gas and as a result the Greens took the seat of Ballina from the Nationals, it appears they still haven’t learnt their lesson’.

‘Since 2010 the gas industry has given more than $1.5 million in donations to Labor and more than $2 million to the Liberal and Nationals.

‘Only The Greens aren’t beholden to big donors and corporate interests. The Greens can be trusted to put land, water, climate and communities ahead of the big mining companies.’

The Clarence-Morton Basin extends over two key marginal seats: Page held by the Nationals by 2.5 per cent, and Richmond held by Labor by three per cent.

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  1. Recent history shows us that National politicians speak out of both sides of their mouths, the truth is not in them, they are not serving the electorate, and constituents they are serving their masters in the resources industries, and feathering their own nests
    A vote for the Nationals is a vote for CSG, they are sold out to big mining, and apparently think we the electorate are fools who cannot learn from history. Perhaps they are right.

  2. Really & I thought they were speaking out their butts! Hot stinky air!!! BS, bigger BS & then some more BS!

    The Nationals are just F*~#ed!! After all they’re nothing – they’re stuck with liberals in a coalition self serving party – look after the rich drive the wedge further making a bigger divide between Haves & Havenots! The nationals are a has been, they don’t look after rural interests they are liberal & covert the land for more pillage & plundering! That’s they’re only interest!

    Pretty easy, don’t vote for them!

  3. These people are snake oil salesmen, they promise what you want to hear and never deliver. In my mind, if they can’t keep their word they should be removed from their position, who trusts people in every day life that lies to you? Remove these people from office, we supposedly have the power to do this on July 2, but regardless of the election we should have the right to remove any of these people if they lie to us, we pay their salaries.


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