More than 5,000 protesters turned out in Lismore to show their anger at plans to try to restart a coal seam gas (CSG) project in the area.
The anti-CSG rally was staged in response to a court case in progress which is dealing with the suspension of a CSG licence in the area.
The NSW Government suspended the licence six months ago and the issue is now before the courts waiting on a decision about the validity of the suspension.
Residents have continued to show their strong opposition to CSG has not changed, with march organisers saying the big turnout was a message to gas companies and the government.
Rock Valley farmer Bevan Jolley said he has become disillusioned with the National Party, which he once identified with.
“I’ve voted National Party ever since I got to vote and I am 70 years of age now but I am very disgruntled with the way local pollies are treating us,” Mr Bevan said.
“They get our vote and then when something big like this [CSG] comes up they seem to not want anything to do with it. When they go back to Parliament they don’t bring it up.”
Mr Jolley said it is not in his nature to protest but he feels he has to because he is concerned about the effect of CSG on ground water on and near his property where he runs beef cattle and grows macadamias.
“Everyone doesn’t want to have to protest to try to stop something … we vote in politicians to do the job for us but these fellas aren’t doing it,” he said.
“If you bugger up that underground water, that’s it, you can’t fix it.”
Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell said she was pleased with the large crowd turn-out.
“Some people might have thought ‘the battle’s been won, we don’t need to march’ but clearly a lot of people have turned out,” Cr Dowell said.
The Mayor said there were many new faces in the crowd who have not been to an anti-CSG protest before.
“At the start, the MC asked people to put up their hands if they’d never been part of this, and quite a few people put up their hands,” she said.
Cr Dowell said she met with NSW Premier Mike Baird on his visit to Lismore yesterday but did not broach the subject of CSG because they were meeting on another matter.
However she said she hopes politicians of all persuasions take notice of the latest protest.
“I hope that politicians who are standing for [NSW state] elections in March will recognise and accept that this community does not want unconventional gas mining here,” Cr Dowell said.
Police said the crowd was well behaved and respectful during the rally and have praised organisers for their efforts in crowd control.
Source: ABC News