Community members will gather for a vigil outside the Queensland Premier's office on Thursday evening to commemorate the legacy of Queensland cotton farmer George Bender, pay respects to his family and community, and continue his work protecting communities against the threat of CSG.
Concurrent vigils will be held outside Origin Energy offices in Melbourne and Adelaide.
In the lead-up to the vigils, Lock the Gate has released a CSG Crisis Action Plan that, if adopted by the Qld Government, would immediately reduce the suffering being caused by CSG companies to people in Qld.
Drew Hutton, spokesperson for Lock the Gate Alliance, said that George Bender had shown extraordinary courage in his bid to defend his community at Hopeland from CSG, and that the Qld Government had failed to protect him from the worst excesses of CSG companies.
"We’re holding this vigil outside the Qld Premiers office to honour George and to say 'never again.'
"Never again should CSG companies be allowed to coerce and intimidate farmers and to drag them through the courts.
"Never again should communities be left with nowhere to turn when their dealings with gas companies become unbearable.
"We’ve written to the Qld Premier requesting an urgent crisis meeting to identify action that can be taken to ensure that what happened to George Bender never happens again, but the Premier has thus far not agreed to meet. This continues a pattern of callous disregard that the Qld Government has shown for the suffering of people in rural Qld over the last decade.
In the lead up to the vigils for George, today we are launching an 8 point CSG Crisis Action Plan that the Qld Government could adopt immediately that would drastically reduce the harm to people being forced to live in gasfields.
The Qld Premier needs to step up and make some urgent changes to stop CSG company coercion and stand over tactics, give landholders the right to say no to mining, and provide support services for Qld families at most risk from the industry," he said.
CSG CRISIS ACTION PLAN
That the Qld Government:
1. Amends the laws to prevent CSG companies using the threat of the Land Court to intimidate and coerce farmers, and instead provide landholders with a right to say ‘no’ so that CSG companies are required to deal fairly if they want to obtain access.
2. Places an immediate halt on Origin Energy plans to drill CSG wells in the Hopeland area and creates a permanent no-go zone to protect this important floodplain area from CSG drilling in the future.
3. Urgently brokers buy-outs between gas companies and at least 4 families who are now at crisis point around Chinchilla, with the goal of having them moved to their satisfaction by the end of the year.
4. Establishes a CSG Family Crisis Panel which has a statutory role to broker exits for families who can no longer live with the stress of CSG mining, and which has a wide remit to intervene at a high level to resolve protracted difficulties for families.
5. Establishes and funds a Resources Ombudsman under statute, with all relevant powers granted to such office generally, to adjudicate in a formal manner on CSG related disputes, complaints and issues.
6. Establishes a dedicated counselling and support service for CSG Affected Communities, which is managed under the CSG Family Crisis Panel.
7. Immediately commences a study into the health impacts of CSG, funded to the tune of at least $500k, with an emphasis on mental health impacts and amelioration measures and which also includes strategic ambient air quality monitoring program as recommended previously.
8. Establishes a CSG Health Roundtable, which is comprised of independent public health professionals with experience in environmental health, mental health and social impacts, to advise it on CSG impacts and to design and oversee the study referred to above.