Landholders from the Northern Rivers and North-West NSW have described the laws introduced into NSW Parliament last week to crack-down on farmers who oppose CSG mining as the first big test of the recently re-badged Shooters, Fishers and ‘Farmers’ Party.
At this stage, the Shooters and Fishers have told farmers who have approached their office that they will vote for the law changes, raising alarm bells across the bush.
"These laws are a fundamental property right issue, because they mean that landholders like us can be arrested on our own properties and possibly jailed for up to 7-years for peacefully opposing CSG,” said Northern Rivers farmer, licensed shooter and member of the Sporting Shooters Association, Peter Nielsen.
“We can’t believe that a party that has just decided to call itself the ‘farmers’ party would hang landholders out to dry like this."
North-west peanut and potato farmer, Sarah Ciesolka, said:
“These laws crack down on public assemblies in our region and make farmers subject to invasive search powers without a warrant. This puts our basic freedoms on our properties and in our regions at risk in ways which we could never have imagined.
“A CSG company will be penalised far less for endangering land and water than I would be for protecting the very same land and water that my family depends on for their life and livelihood.
“This is brutally anti-democratic in a region like ours, where comprehensive community surveys have found that 96% of landholders across 3 million hectares of land overwhelmingly reject plans for CSG gasfields.
“If the Shooters Party votes to criminalise us while we move around our own properties, then it will be fatal to their aspirations in the bush.
“This is a test as to whether the Shooters Party will be a voice for farmers and landholders, or whether they are just a rubber stamp for the NSW Government and their CSG agenda in the Upper House of Parliament” she said.
Northern Rivers farmer, licensed shooter and member of the Sporting Shooters Association, Peter Nielsen, said that:
“We believe these new laws will also have far-reaching repercussions for the rights of hunters operating on farms in NSW.
“It means that operating gasfields will effectively become off-limits to hunting, because of the risks that they could be accused of hindering operations.
“Hunters will also become subject to random search and seize powers that would make a regular day out a very difficult process indeed.
“We’re calling on the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party to live up to their new name, and to vote these laws down in the Upper House” he said.