HOT ISSUE: Anne Thompson and the Knitting Nannas Against Gas protest outside MP Don Page’s electorate office in Ballina.
HOT ISSUE: Anne Thompson and the Knitting Nannas Against Gas protest outside MP Don Page’s electorate office in Ballina. Doug Eaton

Nannas hot under collar after claiming cold shoulder from MP

THE tenacious Knitting Nannas of Ballina may have been given the cold shoulder by Ballina MP Don Page.

Up to 20 nannas have been sitting and knitting outside Mr Page's electorate office every Tuesday for the past six weeks, speaking to passers-by and hoping to get an audience with their local member to discuss their concerns about coal seam gas.

"For the first couple of weeks we made a point of going in there and inviting Don to come out and speak to the Nannas, or made a request with a staff member, but he has never come out to address our concerns," Knitting Nanna supporter Wendy Craig Duncan said.

Ms Craig Duncan said the North Coast Minister's staff had said he would "no longer be speaking to anyone in the community about the unconventional gas issue".

She said the response was an "insult".

"To be told that our own representative is not going to talk with us anymore about such a sensitive issue. The issue is far from over; it's just getting started," she said.

"We need to have some transparency and we want an open conversation with him regarding Dart Energy's plans for the Ballina area.

"I would ask Don Page to let us know what's happening with Dart Energy's licence. If it's about to expire, we would ask him not to renew it because of the community opposition to this invasive industry.

"It's his electorate that he's representing; he should be able to represent us in parliament."

But a spokesman from Mr Page's office in Sydney said the Knitting Nannas' claims were incorrect.

"The minister's staff know Wendy (Craig) Duncan well as she is often in the electorate office. The minister met with Ms Duncan late last year regarding coal seam gas," the spokesman said.

"In relation to last Tuesday's demonstration, Parliament was in session and the minister was in Sydney.

The spokesman said Mr Page would "continue to work on coal seam gas issues on behalf of his constituents" and had yesterday met with Energy and Resources Minister Anthony Roberts to "discuss community concerns".

Ms Craig Duncan confirmed she went to see Mr Page last year about Dart Energy's PEL445 - which covers Ballina - but had not received a satisfactory response from him over the current status of the exploration licence.