Coal Seam Gas mining has again reared its head as a top election campaign issue for Richmond candidates as Federal MP Justine Elliot and Greens’ candidate Dawn Walker sign a pledge against it ahead of the July 2 Federal poll.
CSG was a major issue in the 2013 election campaign with Labor and the Greens strongly advocating against fracking on the North Coast, and Mrs Elliot elected on Greens’ preferences.
On Tuesday, Mrs Elliot and Mrs Walker adopted the #Water4Life16 campaign launched by prominent anti-fracking group Lock the Gate.
The Water4Life16 campaign outlines three goals including: protecting nationally significant water resources, “support the dining boom” not the mining boom, and ensuring the health of people through a CSG mining ban.
Mrs Elliot supported the calls and said Labor was against CSG mining in Richmond “100%”.
“We have to remain vigilant where the political climate is that we have the National party wanting to pursue it no matter what they say,” she said.
“We will fight every day to make sure we have legislation to protect our area, because ultimately we need that in place.
“Myself and the Labor Party stand 100% with the community, we understand the importance of this issue, so I’ll keep fighting for them.”
Mrs Walker said the Greens had put up stand-alone anti-CSG legislation for a number of years.
“The Greens have put up a Senate motion in parliament calling for a suspension of CSG and no new approval in March 2014 that was voted on in parliament and not supported,” she said.
“We also had a March 2015 Bill for farmers to say no to CSG and that hasn’t been supported by the Nationals and Labor.
“We came back to the fact that (Nationals candidate) Matthew (Fraser) and Justine’s (Elliot) parties take donations from fossil fuel companies.”
Northern Rivers Guardians’ spokesman Scott Sledge said the NSW Government’s recent spruiking of mining on the North Coast at an international trade show highlighted the need for specific anti-CSG laws.
“They got caught and their justification was that some bureaucrats got it wrong and they said we can guarantee you with something like have ‘no plans’,” he said.
“‘No plans’ is not a legislative guarantee and we need something a bit more definite.”
Nationals candidate Matthew Fraser said if elected, he “would be happy to work with anyone to ensure that CSG never returns to the Northern Rivers and our water is protected”.
“(CSG) and any other forms of intrusive mining have no place in the Northern Rivers, and since the Nationals cancelled all of Labor’s CSG licenses we can proudly call the Northern Rivers CSG free,” he said.
“The Water4life index is a really positive collection of policies and I will always support any measures that will ensure (CSG) never returns to the Northern Rivers.
“If I am being asked to back each end every measure, that makes it very difficult.
“For example, the creation of a new national Environment Protection Authority duplicates the regulation of the states, adds an extra layer of red tape and will end up hurting farmers and small businesses.”
Mapping released last week by Lock the Gate showed about 37% of Australia is covered by CSG licences or applications.
The mapping was conducted by Energy and Resource Insights, who compiled the relevant coal and petroleum tenement data and release areas from state and territory governments in April 2016.