Lock the Gate Alliance has today released a map showing mining and coal seam gas (CSG) hotspots where actions by the NSW Government over this past term have put land, water and communities at risk and subsequently led to tightly contested races in the upcoming NSW election.
"Coal and coal seam gas mining has become one of the biggest and most controversial issues in the lead-up to the NSW election on the 28th March," said Phil Laird, National Coordinator for Lock the Gate Alliance.
"The NSW Government has been trying to shift the blame for community unrest on the issue to past governments, but our mining hotspots map shows that it is the actions of this Government that have caused most strife.
"It is this Government that approved the Shenhua Watermark and Maules Creek coal mines, that broke its promise to stop the Wallarah 2 coal mine and instead allowed it to proceed, and that has given the go ahead for the Warkworth coal mine to monster and destroy the township of Bulga.
"It is this Government that moved to fast-track the Narrabri Gas Project and to allow fracking within 700m of homes at Gloucester whilst removing the legal requirement for an Environmental Impact Statement.
"It is this Government that plans to crack down on farmers and communities that oppose mining, imposing gaol terms and excessive penalties, instead of cracking down on the mining multinationals who damage land, water and communities.
"As far as other parties go, it is clear from our analysis that the minor parties and independents are the strongest voices for mining-affected communities across the state.
"Independents in rural seats and the NSW Greens have by far the strongest policies to prevent unsafe coal and gas mining from ruining our state.
"The Christian Democrat Party have taken a very important step in calling for a five year moratorium on all coal seam gas drilling in NSW. However, they appear to have very few policies on coal mining.
"The Labor Party has taken the very important step of calling for a suspension of existing CSG exploration licences until the Chief Scientist recommendations have been implemented, and have promised to ban CSG in the Northern Rivers and in certain drinking water catchments.
"However, they have been almost entirely silent on coal mining, and their policy does not appear to prevent CSG mining at Gloucester and Narrabri - both projects which were approved by them whilst in Government during the previous term.
"This election is likely to go right down to the wire in many crucial electorates due to the overwhelming concern that the community feels on coal and gas mining. The major parties need to urgently heed their constituents and overhaul their policies now to properly protect land and water.
Map and full briefing note are available here: http://www.lockthegate.org.au/nswvotes