More than 80 people attended a community forum and organising meeting at the Ingleburn Community Centre in Sydney’s south west on June 29 in opposition to coal seam gas (CSG) mining.
Stop CSG Illawarra spokesperson Jess Moore, Doctors for the Environment’s Helen Redmond and Australia Institute researcher Mark Ogge addressed the meeting.
Moore presented a brief introduction to the nature of the CSG industry and detailed the environmental catastrophes that have followed the industry from the US to Australia.
She made the point that the impact of CSG extraction on the environment would last forever. Even when the wells sunk by the CSG industry are abandoned, the potential for contamination of aquifers and release of methane continues to exist; and it is the community that will have to pick up the maintenance bill.
Ogge questioned the economic wisdom of successive Australian governments’ rush to sell coal, gas and iron ore to the world market as quickly as possible, arguing that this devalued the assets and destabilised the economy.
Redmond presented evidence on the potential health impacts of CSG mining, and questioned the wisdom of allowing a polluting industry to extract methane from Sydney's water catchments, threatening the viability of Sydney's water supply.
The meeting was also attended by several Labor parliamentarians, including federal member for Werriwa Laurie Ferguson and member of NSW Legislative Council Walt Secord, who promised that Labor would legislate to stop CSG extraction in water catchments if elected.
Challenged about continued coal mining in catchments, however, Secord guaranteed that a future Labor government would continue to support that polluting industry, even in sensitive water catchment areas.
The meeting was organised by Stop CSG Macarthur along with Stop CSG groups from around Sydney, the Illawarra and Blue Mountains.
[Stop CSG Macarthur meets monthly. Details are available at stopcsgmacarthur.org.au]