Drew Hutton (Arm raised in the centre) at a CSG Rally in Lismore 2012. IMAGE: Lock the Gate Alliance. https://www.flickr.com/photos/lockthegatealliance/sets/72157645745770987/
Drew Hutton (Arm raised in the centre) at a CSG Rally in Lismore 2012. IMAGE: Lock the Gate Alliance. https://www.flickr.com/photos/lockthegatealliance/sets/72157645745770987/

Pollies in war of words over CSG

LISMORE MP Janelle Saffin and Nationals MLC Ben Franklin have engaged in a war of words, as coal seam gas became a major discussion point this week.

The Nationals, along with the Liberal Party, voted against the CSG Moratorium Bill in the Upper House earlier this week and Ms Saffin did not hold back with her response.

“Ben ‘Fracker’ Franklin should pack up his Byron Bay digs and head back to Sydney, because he has sealed his fate by putting city interests ahead of country people,” she said.

“Byron Bay-based parliamentary secretary for energy and the arts Ben Franklin and his fellow Nationals did a 360-degree turn hoping no one would notice and sought to turn the guns on others.”

However Mr Franklin said the Nationals managed to rid the North Coast of CSG, which exemplified the party’s commitment to the issue.

“My Nationals colleagues and I achieved something that Saffin never could – getting rid of CSG from the North Coast,” Mr Franklin said

“She (Ms Saffin) can spout all the weasel words she likes, but action is what counts for people on the North Coast.”

Ms Saffin accused the Nationals of only caring about the CSG issue when it was convenient for them.

“They are only serious about protecting their own jobs, whether it be the Deputy Premier spot or a seat they ‘claim’ as theirs as a right,” Ms Saffin said.

“They only reacted to electoral loss for them – losing the state seat of Ballina and nearly losing Lismore in 2015.

However Mr Franklin said it was the Labor Government that created the initial CSG problem.

“It was the previous State Labor Government – that ­Janelle Saffin was part of – that approved all of the CSG exploration licenses for the North Coast,” Mr Franklin said.

“They were distributed like confetti, totally ignoring views of local communities.

“For Ms Saffin to now pretend she played no part in her own government’s legacy is treating her constituents like fools.”

The CSG Moratorium Bill was defeated in the Lower House on Thursday 38–36 after passing through the Upper House earlier this week.