Lock the Gate Alliance says NSW election hinges on CSG
THE Lock the Gate Alliance has released a map showing mining and coal seam gas (CSG) hotspots where actions by the NSW Government over this past term have put land, water and communities at risk and subsequently led to tightly contested races in the upcoming NSW election.
The group have accompanied the map with a briefing note that provides an analysis of the position of each party or candidate across 11 different electorates in four regions, spokesperson for Lock the Gate Alliance, Phil Laird has said.
"Coal and coal seam gas mining has become one of the biggest and most controversial issues in the lead-up to the NSW election on the 28th March," Mr Laird said.
"The NSW Government has been trying to shift the blame for community unrest on the issue to past governments, but our mining hotspots map shows that it is the actions of this Government that have caused most strife.
"It is this Government that plans to crack down on farmers and communities that oppose mining, imposing gaol terms and excessive penalties, instead of cracking down on the mining multinationals who damage land, water and communities.
"As far as other parties go, it is clear from our analysis that the minor parties and independents are the strongest voices for mining-affected communities across the state.
"Independents in rural seats and the NSW Greens have by far the strongest policies to prevent unsafe coal and gas mining from ruining our state.
"The Christian Democrat Party have taken a very important step in calling for a 5 year moratorium on all coal seam gas drilling in NSW. However, they appear to have very few policies on coal mining.
"The Labor Party has taken the very important step of calling for a suspension of existing CSG exploration licences until the Chief Scientist recommendations have been implemented, and have promised to ban CSG in the Northern Rivers and in certain drinking water catchments.
"However, they have been almost entirely silent on coal mining, and their policy does not appear to prevent CSG mining at Gloucester and Narrabri - both projects which were approved by them whilst in Government during the previous term.
"This election is likely to go right down to the wire in many crucial electorates due to the overwhelming concern that the community feels on coal and gas mining.
"The major parties need to urgently heed their constituents and overhaul their policies now to properly protect land and water."
Ahead of this New South Wales State Election, there are parts of the state where coal and unconventional gas mining are electrifying the public debate.
The Electoral Mining Hotspots map shows the most controversial decisions the NSW Government has taken on coal and gas mining issues over the last term, across 12 different electorates.
The Lock the Gate Alliance said the electorates of Ballina, Lismore and Tweed may changes hands due to CSG issues.
Popular resistance to gas mining has been growing across the region since 2012, and one year ago this election, thousands of people peacefully blockaded a tight gas exploration drilling project and protected the region by peaceful direct action, the LTG Alliance said.
All local councils have passed resolutions against coal seam gas mining in the region, and a local council poll in
Lismore found that 87% of people were opposed to the industry.
More than 142 communities have declared themselves 'gasfield free' after a grassroots democracy process, with 95.3% of citizens choosing to be gasfield free.
The Lock the Gate Alliance accompanied their map with their outline of the Northern Rivers' political parties and their history and views on CSG and mining:
The National Party candidates for Ballina, Lismore & Tweed have failed to answer any of the questions put to them by Gasfield Free Northern Rivers. The Coalition Government has renewed the 3 major gas licences in the region over the last 4 years, and also announced a production licence near Casino. Dart Energy have just sold one of the major gas licences to drilling company AJ Lucas. Two small, non-contentious licences have been cancelled.
The ALP has promised to keep the Northern Rivers free of unconventional gas and to cancel all current licences. In Government prior to 2011, the ALP approved a number of licences in the region.
The Greens have a policy to keep the Northern Rivers free of unconventional gas and to cancel all current licences, as well as implementing a permanent state-wide ban on unconventional gas mining.
The Christian Democratic Party has pledged to support a five year moratorium on all
coal seam gas across the state.