Knitting Nannas lock Parliament House in CSG protest

SIT-IN: Australian Greens Senators Larissa Waters and Christine Milne with members of Knitting Nannas Against Gas outside Parliament House.
SIT-IN: Australian Greens Senators Larissa Waters and Christine Milne with members of Knitting Nannas Against Gas outside Parliament House. LUKAS COCH

MARNY Bonner is not going to forget her first trip to Parliament House in a hurry.

The Knitting Nannas Against Gas member was among a group of about 60 anti-coal seam gas protesters who staged a four-hour sit-in outside Parliament House on Thursday.

Their action effectively closed down the main entrance to the nation's seat of power, causing a security nightmare for Parliament House officials.

The peaceful sit-in was organised by the Lock The Gate Alliance and came a day after the Senate passed a "water trigger" bill for CSG projects, but in doing so also rejected a Greens' move to give landholders the right to prevent mining companies entering their land.

Greens Leader Christine Milne and the party's mining spokeswoman Larissa Waters, north Queensland MP Bob Katter and independent Tony Windsor were among the politicians who addressed the protest before it ended peacefully at 2.30pm.

Senator Waters, who last week met with anti-CSG campaigners in Grafton and Lismore, used her address to praise the courage of the Glenugie community which had successfully "locked the gate" to Metgasco.

Ms Bonner was one of about 20 people from Lismore, including two former life members of the National Party, who boarded a bus on Wednesday morning to join the sit-in, which also attracted the attention of a healthy number of Australian Federal Police officers.

"I like the ethic of peacefully bearing witness to what I see as atrocities to the land, but also more importantly a threat to the health and welfare of our children," Ms Bonner told APN Newsdesk outside Parliament House.

"The diggers fought for the freedom of this land .. and now we have our own politicians betraying us and telling us that we can't say no to people who want to come onto our land."

Ms Bonner, who is married to prominent anti-CSG campaigner Gordon Fraser-Quick, praised Parliament House security staff for the respect and patience they had displayed.

A number of the protesters took the opportunity to share their stories and concerns about the expansion of CSG.

Mr Fraser-Quick, who last week sought to register his own Stop CSG Party ahead of the federal election, was among those who addressed the gathering.

By closing the main entrance to Parliament House officials had effectively "locked the gate on democracy", he said.

He said the passing of the water trigger bill was a positive step, but added more action was needed.

Lock The Gate president Drew Hutton also welcomed the water bill, but expressed disappointment at the Senate's rejection of the Greens' amendment.

He spoke about research released this week which showed 86% of people supported giving landholders the right to refuse access to miners.

Senator Waters said she took heart from the passion on display at the sit-in.

"The old parties yesterday voted down my amendment to allow landholders to lock the gate to coal and coal seam gas," Senator Waters said.

"Today's Lock The Gate protest at Parliament House clearly demonstrates how passionate the community is about giving landholders the right to say no to coal seam gas mining on their land, which only the Greens are standing for in the Senate."

Topics:  coal seam gas, csg



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