Mayor Jenny Dowell
Mayor Jenny Dowell

Heated CSG debate cools down

WITH the September 8 Lismore coal seam gas poll less than two weeks away, both sides of the debate are missing in action when it comes to promoting their views to voters.

Since Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell posted cases for and against CSG on Facebook last month, there's been no further information from either side of the debate.

Attempts yesterday by The Northern Star to contact Lock the Gate Northern Rivers about any potential action ahead of the poll were unsuccessful.

The Australian Petroleum and Production Exploration Association (APPEA) has also been silent on the Lismore poll since providing its case on CSG last month.

APPEA's Chief Operating Officer for Eastern Australia, Rick Wilkinson, said APPEA had already "expressed its disappointment to council" about double standards and an unfair choice of polling questions.

"I do think we need a proper debate in the area, but one which has to have a minimum standard of seriousness, and it hasn't been the case," he said.

Yet the silence from both sides is disappointing to outgoing pro-CSG councillor Peter Graham, who said they're were a lot of people who would benefit from a campaign because they were 'sitting on the fence'.

"I thought the petroleum industry should have put money into it and had some sort of pro-active comment on the poll," Cr Graham said.

"So many people are unsure - they're not in full belief of Lock the Gate, because they see them as radical, and they're not 100% convinced by the companies, because they have a vested interest."

However, mayor Jenny Dowell said the lack of strong campaigning from both sides might be a good thing.

"In some ways it's a purer result when people don't feel they're bombarded by a strong Yes or No case," she said.

"It will judge quite objectively what the true level of support for coal seam gas really is."

In a statement yesterday Metgasco chief executive Peter Henderson described the poll as "a flawed process from the outset".

"CSG is a state government issue ... the NSW government has done a lot of work on the issue and will shortly release new regulations and policies," he said.

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