"This is the battle for the end of the fossil fuel industry. This is the end game," Lock the Gate Alliance campaigner Drew Hutton told a forum, titled, Australia's Gas Rush: The race to save our farmland and the Great Artesian Basin, on April 14 in Brisbane.
The forum, sponsored by Green Left Weekly, also heard from Ewan Saunders, climate campaigner and Socialist Alliance activist.
The invasion by the coal and Coal Seam Gas (CSG) industries into the farming communities of southwestern Queensland represents "the most radical transformation of rural Queensland since the expansion of the pastoral frontier in the 19th century," Hutton told the forum.
"The environmental consequences of this invasion are the worst we've seen since the early days of white settlement."
Some of the biggest mining companies in the world are involved in this "gas rush," he said. "The underground water of the Great Artesian Basin will be destroyed for 1000 years."
The law currently says that farmers have to allow these companies access to their properties. "But a determined Lock the Gate campaign of 'non-co-operation' has been launched. Some 80 groups have signed up to the Lock the Gate Alliance," he added.
"This is a fight to the death," Hutton said. "We cannot accept state and federal governments plan for transition from coal to gas," as a false solution to greenhouse gas emissions.
Renewable energy alternatives have to be considered urgently, Hutton maintained.
Saunders addressed the need for a city-based campaign, to support the farmers' resistance, and help build a broad alliance to stop the CSG takeover of rural land. "An alliance of groups in Brisbane is needed to help raise public awareness in the urban areas about this crucial issue," he said.
The Lock the Gate Alliance is holding a "Rock the Gate" festival at Tara Showgrounds over April 29 to May 4.
[For more information, visit the Western Downs Alliance website at http://westerndowns.group-action.com/ .]