When the Nationals visited Narrabri on May 12 for dinner and talks, many in the community lined the entrance to voice their opposition to coal seam gas (CSG). NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro did not receive the welcome he expected.
"Hopefully he takes the message into the event that the electorate does not want this industry to take hold," said Narrabri farmer Stuart Murray.
Local state member for Barwon Kevin Humphries and federal member Mark Coulton also attended. Special guests included Santos senior management.
"We have been let down, to say it bluntly, by the Nationals’ support for CSG in our electorate," said Peter Small of the North West Alliance. "In 2011 Kevin Humphries said he was against the industry, now in a total backflip he has nothing but praise for CSG. It's causing us all whiplash."
"We do not want the Narrabri Gas Project to go ahead," said Murray. "We know there is not a gas crisis, but a price crisis. The negative impacts do not weigh up against the minimal positive impacts being listed of this project."
The Nationals’ new focus on regional NSW comes after the dramatic loss to the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers in the recent Orange byelection and the 20% swing against Humphries at the last state election. There is also a push from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers to capitalise on community anger by standing in 10 seats, including Barwon, in the next election.
Small said: "The Nationals have made us second class citizens compared to their seat on the North Coast. Why is it OK to cancel licences across the rest of the state, but leave ours open for sacrifice?
"CSG has no social licence here, as clearly represented by more than 10,000 submissions already handed to the Department of Planning against the Narrabri Gas Project."