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Emphatic 'NO' to CSG

Giant protest sign against CSG painted by Julla Livingston.
Giant protest sign against CSG painted by Julla Livingston. Marc Stapelberg

LISMORE'S voters roared their dissatisfaction with coal-seam gas on Saturday with a resounding "No" vote in the controversial CSG referendum.

At the last count on Sunday the "No" vote was listed at just under 88%, with more than 15,000 votes counted.

The "No" vote had been widely expected, prompting CSG lobby group the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association about two weeks ago to drop its endorsement of the poll.

APPEA complained the question being asked of voters, "Do you support coal-seam gas (CSG) exploration and production in the Lismore City Council area?", was leading and designed to elicit a "No" response.

A Southern Cross University survey showed from initial observation that voters listed "harmful effects on water systems" as the number-one concern about CSG, said survey co-ordinator Hanabeth Luke.

Other common concerns were "reduced quality of life" and "impacts on community health".

A large proportion of the community also said they were prepared to change their mind if new evidence about CSG came to light.

"The aim of the survey was to reflect community views from a purely scientific perspective, and we took utmost care that there was no bias," said Ms Luke.

Ms Luke said she hoped the survey would be able to reveal more about the community perspective on CSG "beyond a simple 'yes' or 'no' response".

Voters also cited word-of-mouth and local press as influential sources of information about CSG, alongside television and documentaries.

Lock the Gate Northern Rivers spokesperson Boudicca Cerese said the poll result meant the CSG industry had "no social license to proceed" in the Northern Rivers region".

"This outcome makes a mockery of government and CSG industry claims that it is only 'extremists', 'professional activists' and 'career campaigners' who oppose coal-seam gas," said Ms Cerese.

"The resounding 'No' vote clearly demonstrates that people from all sections of the community, rural and urban, are opposed to the coal- seam gas industry."

"The Northern Rivers region has too much to lose from the reckless expansion of the CSG industry and our MP's should be working to declare it off limits for any further exploration or production," she said.

Topics:  coal seam gas community lismore mining industry protest



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