The Berejiklian and Barilaro Government’s decision to vote down the CSG Moratorium Bill under extraordinary circumstances shows it has abandoned farmers and rural communities, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.
Independent MP Justin Field’s Bill passed the Upper House overnight, only for the Berejiklian Government to break with normal process and bring the Bill forward to use its majority in the Lower House to vote it down.
The Government came under criticism in the parliament for failing to implement the recommendations of the Chief Scientist for managing the risks of coal seam gas, which prompted the passage of the Bill in the Upper House last night to pause the industry while protections and data collection are put in place.
Narrabri renewable energy consultant Rohan Boehm said the government’s rejection of the Bill was a kick in the guts for locals who had spent the past decade struggling with the twin threats of the drought and Santos’ Narrabri gas project.
“We know that renewable energy, wind, solar, and bioenergy are the perfect fit for north west NSW and Narrabri in particular,” he said.
“With major new infrastructure developments coming through we urgently need a whole suite of brand new industries based on low cost and abundant energy. That’s what renewables will do and at a much cheaper price than what coal seam gas could ever do for the people of the north west and the state.
“The Narrabri Gas project will immediately become an abandoned project because it simply cannot compete in the energy market - the gas is far too expensive, it will never add any value to the region and will add no value to NSW.”
Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson and Mullaley farmer Margaret Fleck said the Berejiklian Government and in particular its National Party members had betrayed rural people.
“We applaud the efforts of our local member Roy Butler who is listening to and representing the people of Barwon and Justin Field who brought this bill to the parliament. We also thank the Labor Party, Greens and Animal Justice Party for supporting the passage of the bill,” she said.
“It is deeply troubling that, at a time when we are still struggling with the impacts of an unprecedented drought, the government would put our scarce water resources at further risk by encouraging the polluting and risky coal seam gas industry.
“Santos’ plan to drill 850 coal seam gas wells through farmland and the Pilliga Forest is a serious threat to a Great Artesian Basin water recharge zone.
“It is also greatly troubling the Berejiklian Government has gone so far out of its way to bring forward this debate and vote down this Bill when it can’t even implement all of the Chief Scientist’s recommendations on managing the risky CSG industry.
“The Berejiklian Government has spectacularly failed to deliver its promise and implement these recommendations. With the rejection of this Bill, it has now utterly sold out the bush.”