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Thousands rally in Murwillumbah

3,000 people marched through the streets at Murwillumbah in northern New South Wales on Saturday 14 May calling for the gate to be locked on the coal and coal seam gas industries right around the country.

In Kingaroy several days ago and down the road from where that doughty old Queensland premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen lies buried, 150 farmers voted to lock the gate on a proposed mine. Two days ago a little Italian-Australian woman – the owner of the Bimblebox nature refuge at Alpha in central Queensland – locked the gate on Clive Palmer whose company, Waratah Coal wants to put an open cut coal mine right across her 8,000 hectare property. The farmers at Felton near Toowoomba – all 100 of them – have locked their gates on a coal mine and a petrochemical plant and 500 farmers and landholders at Gowrie Junction to the west of Toowoomba have done the same. At Drillham, west of Miles in Queensland, farmers have locked their gates under the banner "Gas companies bugger off!" and, of course, the Tara blockade has now entered its third month.

To these Queensland examples can be added the New South Wales regions that have also locked their gates – the Hunter Valley, the Liverpool Plains, the Southern Highlands and now, of course, the Northern Rivers. Environmentalists are discussing how they will block coal seam gas companies coming onto the Pilliga Scrub, the largest continuous semi-arid woodland in New South Wales. Even in and near Sydney, communities are mobilising to get rid of coal seam gas.

All around the country landholders and environmentalists are imposing their own moratorium on a CSG industry that has had too little scrutiny prior to getting approvals from government and a coal industry which should be phased out, not expanded. Communities are no longer naive enough to wait for the official environmental assessment process, knowing that this process that originally began as an expansion of democratic practices has become corrupt and serves only the interests of the big developers. Communities all around the country are withdrawing the social licence from industries which have had far too easy a ride from governments.

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