About 60 anti-coal seam gas campaigners gathered outside NSW parliament on May 7 to greet newly-elected MPs with a clear message: stop Santos’ Narrabri Gas Project in the state’s north west.
The action was organised by Stop CSG Sydney and the Knitting Nannas and Friends.
Protesters received a positive response from some MPs, including the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party (SFF), the NSW Greens and an independent.
SFF’s Roy Butler recommitted his party to opposing CSG developments. He also said his party supported a moratorium on CSG until all of the Chief Scientist’s recommendations are implemented.
Butler won the seat of Barwon from the National Party, which it had held for 70 years, partly because of his party’s opposition to CSG.
The Greens’ new MLC Abigail Boyd pledged her party’s commitment to stopping the Santos Narrabri Project. Greens MPs David Shoebridge and Jenny Leong also attended.
Former Greens now Independent MLC Justin Field reiterated his support to ban CSG, adding he would be bringing forward a moratorium bill within two months.
Labor was invited to speak but did not take up the opportunity.
Labor MLC Adam Searle has prepared a moratorium bill, which includes identified permanent “no go” areas where CSG projects would risk water supplies. This bill has yet to be tabled and it is unclear when he intends to put it before parliament.
Coonamble farmer and anti-CSG and water campaigner Anne Kennedy stressed the importance of country and city people working together to protect the Great Artesian Basin and agriculture from the Santos project.
Actor Michael Caton, who has extensive knowledge of the Great Artesian Basin, also lent his support.
Raymond “Bubbly” Weatherall, a Gamilaraay man from the Gunu Gunu and the Biridja clans, said that communities working together had effectively put the industry on hold in NSW, and that would be needed to save the Pilliga from Santos’ efforts to convert it into a huge industrial gas field.
Weatherall called on MPs to listen to communities and support demands to protect water and land, and called on rally goers to continue united actions.
An impromptu choir, led by Patrick Hart and the Sydney Knitting Nannas, highlighted the risks of CSG, and called for a transition to renewable energy and an end to fossil-fuel energy.
The Sydney Nannas delivered a letter to the NSW planning minister Rob Stokes later that day, calling on him to demand the Department of Planning not pass the Santos Project assessment on to the Independent Planning Commission until Santos had responded to government requests for further information.
After a long delay, Santos recently provided supplementary information to the Department of Planning, but failed to address key concerns about the project, including water modelling, waste disposal, endangered species, independent monitoring and rehabilitation costs.
[Marie Flood and Pip Hinman are active in Stop CSG Sydney.]