People from three regions in New South Wales will arrive in Sydney this week for the parliamentary debate on a Bill that would create a moratorium on unconventional gas across the State and protect water catchments, the Great Artesian Basin recharge and the Northern Rivers for good.
The regional representatives are using the Bill debate to push for key gas exploration licences affecting farmland and water to be bought back ahead of the Government’s 30 September deadline.
The Greens have a Bill in the Upper House to ban CSG and other unconventional gas in New South Wales. The ALP have moved amendments to that Bill to give it a chance of passing with broad political support, and it is due to be debated on Thursday this week.
If passed, the amended Bill would:
- Impose an immediate moratorium on all unconventional gas exploration,
- Create permanent no-go zones in the Northern Rivers, key drinking water catchments, recharge areas of the Great Artesian Basin, prime farmland and critical industry clusters, and
- Ensure key recommendations made by the Chief Scientist are implemented.
People from Fullerton Cove, north of Newcastle, from the Northern Rivers and the North West of New South Wales will travel to Sydney to watch debate on the Bill and call on the Government to cancel or buy back gas licences in inappropriate areas.
Meg Nielsen from Bentley is travelling down to Sydney to watch the Bill debate, in the hope that a broad political coalition will pass it in the Upper House and that the Government will respond by cancelling or buying back the gas licences in the Northern Rivers.
She said, “There are five gas licences covering more than a million hectares of the Northern Rivers, despite the promises from our local members that they will be bought back. We won’t rest until the region is free from the threat of invasive gasfields, and the first step is to vote for this Bill, and buy back the licences.
Lindsay Clout from Fullerton Cove, whose community successfully blockaded CSG drilling in 2012 said, “The Tomago Sand Beds supply 20% of Newcastle’s drinking water and should be protected from industrial gasfields. We want the Government to buyback the exploration licence.
Sarah Ciesiolka, a farmer from near Wee Waa said, “There are still gas exploration licences over vast tracts of North West NSW including the Liverpool Plains, Narrabri, Moree and Coonamble, widely known as some of the most important food growing areas in the State, and Santos has undertaken gas exploration in a recharge area for the Great Artesian Basin”
Georgina Woods from Lock the Gate Alliance said, “We’re excited that the broad political support for a moratorium on unconventional gas could see this Bill pass the Upper House next week. The Government will be under unprecedented pressure to protect the Pilliga, the Northern Rivers and the water catchments of Sydney, Newcastle and the Central Coast from invasive gasfields.”