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Communities call for “fair go” on coal and gas mining

Farmers, traditional owners and tourism operators call for “fair go” on coal and gas mining

An unusual alliance of farmers, traditional owners, tourism operators and conservationists from across Australia have come together in Canberra this week to highlight the health, social, cultural and environmental threats posed by coal and unconventional gas mining.

The delegation, brought together by the Lock the Gate Alliance, will meet with more than 30 ministers and members of parliament over the next three days.

National coordinator for Lock the Gate Phil Laird said titles for gas and coal exploration currently covered more than 54 per cent of Australia’s land mass or 437 million hectares, and communities nationwide were worried at the potential impacts from mining on their land, water and country.

“Australians have supported the mining industry for generations, but current plans for a vast unconventional gas industry and a massive expansion in coal mining are threatening our land and water like never before and putting communities at risk,” Mr Laird said.

“We’ve come down here to Canberra to ask for a fair go. We’re calling on our federal representatives of all political persuasions to heed the call from country to protect our valuable water resources, our thriving rural industries, our best farming lands and the health of our children.

“Rural Australians are locking their gates to the unconventional gas industry in ever growing numbers and as a last resort, have been forced to use their bodies as barriers to drilling rigs.

“It is time our MPs listened to the community and moved to protect land and water from the ravages of fracking and other destructive coal and gas mining on private and public lands.”

Mr Laird said some of Australia’s most prized agricultural land and much of its precious groundwater was under threat from unconventional gas mining, a short- term destructive industry that had the potential to contaminate land and water for generations.

“Our politicians do have the power to stop this juggernaut and protect our food security and the water that sustains both inland Australia and coastal communities.

“But instead of acting to protect our land and water resources our government is poised to sign away decades of environmental protection, health safeguards and human rights through provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, known as the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions.

“These provisions in the trade treaty could result in corporations suing the nation for hundreds of millions of dollars if foreign owned extractive industries are held up for environmental, cultural, health and safety reasons. “We call on Tony Abbott to stop this madness and protect the rights of landholders and traditional owners.”

Included in the delegation is an Anglican Minister from Canberra, a traditional owner from the Kimberley, a vigneron from the Coonawarra region of South Australia, a tourism operator from south-east Queensland, a former mayor from Gloucester in NSW, two farmers from north-west NSW, a health worker from Gippsland in Victoria and an environmental scientist from the northern rivers of NSW.

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