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Gas company land access comments just hot air unless politicians change laws to support farmers

Lock the Gate Alliance is calling on Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud to put his money where his mouth is after he was reported saying farmers should be able to lock their gates to gas companies.

Mr Littleproud’s comments come after his NSW counterpart Adam Marshall also called on gas companies that hold zombie petroleum licences across large swathes of land in north west NSW to “voluntarily” hand back their permits.

Lock the Gate Alliance NSW spokesperson Georgina Woods said both politicians’ comments were hollow without legislative change and political action.

“The power imbalance in favour of gas companies is one of the very reasons Lock the Gate Alliance was formed more than a decade ago,” she said.

“This fundamental problem has not been fixed and politicians that support landholders’ legal right to refuse gas companies entry onto their properties need to turn that support into legal protections. 

“The damage of coal seam gas of course goes well beyond property boundaries because it threatens underground aquifers that are relied on by people far from the actual gas wells.

“Gasfields also require pipelines which themselves inevitably destroy farmland on their way to cities and export hubs on the coast. Unconventional gasfields industrialise once rural communities.

“For example, Santos’ coal seam gasfield in the Pilliga forest is a threat to groundwater as well as farmland stretching out in a large area because of the various pipeline proposals mooted to bring the gas to market.

“David Littleproud and Adam Marshall are ministers in government. If they really support the communities in north west NSW and elsewhere that are threatened with coal seam gas, they must speak to their colleagues and make legislative changes to give farmers and Traditional Owners the right to refuse entry to gas companies and to protect groundwater from this industry. 

“Landholders, farmers, and rural communities have been fighting the unconventional gas industry for more than a decade now. Despite an almost total lack of action from governments, landholders have shown they can defeat this insidious industry. 

“It’s time governments stepped in so landholders and communities felt better supported by the politicians who claim to represent them.”

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