Ngaraakwal Elder Harry Boyd, Keerrong Gas Squad’s Ian Gaillard and water activist Doug Ferguson at a press conference last Thursday.
Ngaraakwal Elder Harry Boyd, Keerrong Gas Squad’s Ian Gaillard and water activist Doug Ferguson at a press conference last Thursday. Terra Sword

Report on CSG destruction

CSG opponents have written a formal plea asking the NSW Government to declare the Northern Rivers a CSG-free region and protect its 'ecological capital' which they say once lost, would be gone forever.

The plea was presented by Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham last Thursday in the NSW Upper House, where the unsuccessful Greens Coal Seam Gas Moratorium Bill was being debated. The government blocked tabling of the document and Mr Buckingham plans to read it in full at a parliamentary sitting in coming weeks to ensure it is recorded on Hansard.

Written by ecologist David Milledge, botanist Robert Cooyman and Doug Ferguson, the document talks about a "diverse and robust agriculture" in the Northern Rivers that would be economically disastrous to lose and the 'natural jewels' of our region, World Heritage-listed national parks, that provide the source of clean water to lowland aquifers and waterways. It goes on to say there is no reliable data on the effects of CSG on water systems and thus the precautionary principle should be adopted.

The document also talks about the unique ecology of the caldera around Mt Warning, the largest caldera in the southern hemisphere, which is home to a unique remnant of ancient flora and fauna.

"When you put something on the Hansard record it stays there - it's absolute evidence the parliament has been told," Mr Ferguson said.

"Here we have world-renowned experts tellng the government that this is some of the most exalted landscape on the Australian continent...We saved some of it as recently as 1982 (Mt Nardi protests) and we saved the water that comes from it, yet now we have a cynical local member and cynical government that waves it away as if it means nothing."

At a press conference publicising the document last week, Mayor Jenny Dowell expressed her support for the plea and announced she hopes to hold a poll question in tandem with the September 8 local government elections, asking people if they support a CSG-free community.

"I would like to see us declared a CSG-free LGA and region - this is the most biodiverse region in NSW and the third in Australia. There are remnants of Gondwana from millions of years ago… the risks are not worth taking. It's the biggest threat I've seen to our environment in the 21 years I've been here and possibly the biggest threat some of you born here have seen in your life."

Mayor Dowell said arguments that Metgasco was local and could therefore be trusted were dubious. She warned they are investigating partnerships in China and said it may not be long before local gas reserves are foreign-owned, with communities bearing long-term scars for the short-term profits of a rich few.

She plans to meet with Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson on March 29 following his request for a meeting.

Former Kyogle councillor and Aboriginal woman Patsy Nagas also challenged NSW Aboriginal Land Council CEO Geoff Scott to come and face local people. She expressed anger at the Sydney-based land council's application for petroleum exploration licences in the region.

"It's breaking cultural protocol to start with… It's someone else giving away someone else's country," she said.

She claimed the Githabul people had already signed over land that they claimed through Native Title near The Risk and The Lions Road for mining exploration. She said the issue was of great concern and there needed to be deeper discussion about the implications for Aboriginal people and their land.

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