Anti-coal seam gas protesters outside Labor's candidate for Page Patrick Deegan's office in Lismore.
Anti-coal seam gas protesters outside Labor's candidate for Page Patrick Deegan's office in Lismore. Contributed

Community protests over Labor's latest gas pipeline promise

ANTI-coal seam gas protesters rallied in Lismore on Wednesday following Labor's policy announcement they would build new gas pipelines to fast tack future gas projects in the Northern Territory.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced on Tuesday if Labor wins the May 18 election it will replace the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility with a new fund focused on pipelines to link gas fields across Queensland and the Northern Territory.

But the news did not sit well with Northern Rivers residents after thousands campaigned five years ago to put a stop to the coal seam gas industry in this region.

Outside Labor's candidate for Page Patrick Deegan's office on Wednesday, anti-CSG campaigners protested against Labor's decision to support gas projects in other parts of the country.

"Lots of people there just couldn't quite believe the ALP has made this policy decision,” Gasfield Free Northern Rivers spokeswoman Annie Kia said.

"This climate-wrecking policy announced by Bill Shorten will detonate a carbon bomb and stop Australia meeting Paris climate targets.

"The funds from Labor are designed to frack open the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory which is one of the largest untapped shale gas basins in the world.

"It would make the Adani mine look small in comparison.

"This money should have been spent on building a positive, renewable future for Australia, and Federal Labor should heed community opposition and reallocate the funds to support our manufacturers to switch from dirty, polluting gas to renewables.”

But despite Mr Deegan's opposition to the CSG industry, he defended his party's decision to supply gas pipelines to the Northern Territory.

"This is a concern for many people in the Northern Rivers region and when our community was under threat from CSG in the local area, as a private citizen I stood with the community against CSG locally,” Mr Deegan said.

"I will continue to stand with the local community in objecting to CSG mining within the local region and in other areas.

"The announcement was in relation to pipelines, not gas mines.

"Labor has not lowered its environmental bottom line in relation to any of those mines. Many of those decisions are made at state levels.

"I don't believe CSG is safe anywhere in this county.”

Shadow Minister for Rural Australia Joel Fitzgibbon said the decision to build the pipeline infrastructure was at the request of those specific communities.

"We want to be a country that continues to make things, therefore we need a manufacturing industry, to have a manufacturing industry we'll need gas,” he said.

"There are some communities who seek the opportunity to develop their industry, including communities in Northern Queensland and the Northern Territory. There are some communities like on the Northern Rivers where they've made it clear they don't want to develop that industry.

"We'll continue to respect the views of local communities, where they don't want gas projects we'll hear them. But in the Northern Territory, where the government and local communities and indigenous communities support the industry, as a Labor government in Canberra we'll facilitate the infrastructure they need to deliver those gas supplies to market.”

Meanwhile, Page MP Kevin Hogan said Mr Shorten's policy announcement proved the Labor Party "cannot be trusted”.



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