Richmond Valley Council General Manager John Walker.
Richmond Valley Council General Manager John Walker. Cathy Adams

CSG question triggers controversy

RICHMOND Valley Council has hit back after being accused of including a "loaded" question in a recent telephone survey.

The survey, Richmond Valley Council general manager, John Walker, explained, was part of collecting community responses for their Community Strategic Plan, which they are required to redo every four years.

The Casino Group Against Gas and Richard Gates from the Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome Committee expressed their concern over the wording of one particular question, which related to coal seam gas in the region.

"My concern was that one of the questions was about coal seam gas, and it concerned me at the time, because the way it was conveyed was something along the lines of 'if the science showed there was no effects on water, the environment etc, would you support coal seam gas?' - so that's a loaded question," Dr Gates said.

"My concerns were that down the track council might use that in the future to say that, 'oh 97% of people supported CSG,' and not include the preamble. I've seen that happen before, and I didn't want it to be abused."

However the council has denied the claims that the question was loaded.

Mr Walker said the council were not interested in asking a question about whether coal seam gas should be allowed in the Richmond Valley, and were simply using CSG as an example in a question that related to leadership from council.

Mr Walker said the scare tactics being employed by Dr Gates and others over the survey were unjustified and immensely frustrating."It's regretful a handful of people are trying to dominate the debate against the voice of the silent majority," Mr Walker said.



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