National Party must deliver Barnaby Joyce’s promises, after electoral shock

Published: March 30, 2015

Coal seam gas mining has been cemented as a major electoral issue that shifts votes after the NSW election on Saturday, said Lock the Gate Alliance, and the NSW National Party should respond accordingly.

The NSW Greens, the Labor Party and a number of key independents took stronger policy positions against coal and gas mining into the election then the NSW government, and votes have shifted in key electorates in response.

In regions where widespread opposition to coal and gas mining was a crucial factor, the Liberals and Nationals look set to lose up to 5 seats - Ballina, Lismore, Wyong, Gosford and Campbelltown - and the Nationals have suffered major swings of up to 22% against them in 3 more seats - Clarence, Upper Hunter and Barwon.

In response to those results, Lock the Gate has called on the NSW National Party to deliver on the statements made by Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce and Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson that farmland and aquifers should be protected from coal seam gas

Mr Joyce was on Insiders yesterday saying that coal seam gas development should only be allowed if “you’re not on prime agriculture land, you're not destroying an aquifer” but Lock the Gate says no such protections exist in New South Wales.

Mr Joyce also made big commitments to the electorate of Tamworth during the election campaign about the Federal decision on the Shenhua Watermark coal mine.

“CSG has delivered a political earthquake on the far north coast, with two seats potentially switching directly from the National Party to the Greens for the first time in Australia history, and a major electoral shock in other safe National Party seats" said Phil Laird, National Coordinator with Lock the Gate Alliance.

"We welcome the comments by Minister Joyce on Sunday that implied that CSG should not occur on prime farmland and in places with important groundwater aquifers, but the fact is that there are no such protections in place at present in NSW.

"In fact, the rich farmland of the Northern Rivers, Upper Hunter and Liverpool Plains are all covered in CSG drilling licences.

"We believe that, given the indisputable evidence that CSG is a huge issue and a vote changer, that it's time for the National Party to deliver on their statements and commitments and fully protect farmland and water resources.

"The NSW government has to act on the public's very clear mandate to stop coal seam gas in these places.

"Furthermore, it would seem one of the reasons that the National Party won Tamworth so convincingly, was because Minister Joyce has made assurances that the Watermark coal mine on the Liverpool Plains can be stopped by Environment Minister Greg Hunt.

“The community is very keen to see the Federal Government follow through and stop that mine, and for the NSW Government to take heed of community concerns and put the brakes on CSG and protect our land, water and communities” Mr Laird said.

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