BY Lisa Wheeler
THE fight to stop coal seam gas mining in the Pilliga and the gas pipeline is set to become a fight for the electorate of Barwon, with the NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley stating that the Pilliga coal seam gas mining and gas pipeline projects would not be approved under a Labor government.
The NSW ALP policy was confirmed by Luke Foley NSW Leader of the Opposition at a meeting held at ‘Tyrone’ Coonamble last week.
Over 150 people gathered on the property of Row and Adam Mcrae to meet Luke Foley and members of his shadow ministry, to voice their concerns about the proposed coal seam gas mining in the Pilliga and the gas pipeline.
The delegation included Adam Searle MLC (Shadow Minister Industry, Resources and Energy), Penny Sharpe MLC (Environment and Heritage, Planning), Mick Veitch MLC (Primary Industries, Western NSW, Lands) and Daniel Mookhey MLC.
For the farmers and concerned locals the issue is about protection of the water reserves of the great artesian basin and ensuring the future of farming in the district.
No Water No Food that was the catchphrase of the meeting.
Mr Foley addressed the meeting and clearly stated that “he and his Labor party were totally opposed to the Pilliga coal seam gas project and that it would not be approved under a Labor government”.
“It took a long time for people in Sydney to get a real sense of what is going on here. I don’t think it’s too late, the Government might hide behind a planning approval process but governments are elected to govern and if we are elected to form a government in exactly 52 weeks from now, then a Labor government will stop any approval of the Pilliga coal seam gas project and pipeline… So no Pilliga CSG and no pipeline that’s a commitment from the Labor Party”.
Mr Foley was in Coonamble 18 months ago attending the local greyhound carnival trying to save the ‘dish lickers’.
“We won that one and we will win this one too” Mr Foley said.
“Let’s be honest Labor hasn’t won a seat around here for a very long time…since Jack Renshaw. He was a great man who did a lot for people in this part of the state,” he said.
It has been 40 years since Labor has had representation in this area.
Mr Foley questioned whether the National Party had been doing the right thing by the people of Barwon
“You have to ask yourselves are the party that you traditionally give your support to, the National Party, doing the right thing by you?”
“I don’t think they did the right thing by regional communities on the greyhound ban. I don’t think they did the right thing by regional communities on some of the forced council mergers in the bush and I don’t think they are doing the right thing by regional communities on coal seam gas.” Mr Foley said. “Now they have signed an agreement with Santos to call this a strategic energy policy for NSW but they have never given us any details as to what this means.”
Coonamble Farmer Simon Fagan explained that the State and Federal government were doing all they could to rush through planning approvals prior to next year’s state election, and asked what a Labor government would do, should this happen.
Mr Foley explained that it was something they would have to think about and gain legal advice on. He explained that Labor’s priority was to ensure that the projects were not approved but he was concerned that the present government may fast-track approval to potentially tie Labor hands. He said it was not simple but reaffirmed that the priority for now was to ensure that Labor do everything to prevent this project from going ahead.
Jeremy Borowski a qualified mining engineer and Coonamble farmer explained that coal seam gas mining wasn’t just a ‘not in my back yard scenario’, but that we needed to stop all coal seam gas mining projects.
Mr Foley responded saying that Labour was still formulating policy regarding what was happening statewide and nationally and that they would need to seek legal advice and speak to all stakeholders.