Thousands rally in Sydney suburb against CSG

March against coal seam gas mining, Newtown, September 18. Photo: Peter Boyle

Chanting “Coal seam gas, we will stop it; our community is not for profit”, 2000 locals marched on September 18 from Newtown’s Camperdown Park to Sydney Park in St Peters, just 200 metres from a proposed CSG mining site.

The colourful march packed King Street, where most cafes and shops carried “No Gas” signs. Many pedestrians either cheered the rally or joined the march.

In Campbell Road, outside houses that are just 100 metres from the site where Dart Energy is proposing to drill, residents declared they would be prepared to lock arms and block CSG operations should Dart try to proceed with the mining.

Rally chair and Stop CSG activist Paul Benedek ridiculed the recent "We want CSG" ad campaign by the CSG industry, saying itmust have found “the only seven people in Australia” who are calling for CSG.

“They say we want CSG. Did they ask St Peters? Did they ask Sydney? Did they ask Australia? Do we want a network of mines in our community? Are we willing to risk our water, our health, our future? Do we want CSG?” Benedek questioned, with the crowd thundering “no” each time.

Marrickville Mayor Fiona Byrne criticised the secrecy of the CSG industry. “The community was not consulted, the council was not told, Dart Energy’s licence should be revoked.”

Stop CSG Sydney activist and Alexandria resident Isabel McIntosh called for the Dart Energy drilling licence — which covers 2300 square kilometeres across Sydney, up to the Central Coast and down to the Illawarra — to be immediately cancelled by the state government.

Stop CSG Illawarra’s Jess Moore said: “It’s completely insane that an industry which is such a threat to our water have had the red carpet rolled out for them … millions of litres of fresh water … is contaminated with every coal seam gas well.”

She said although about 98% of gas is captured in conventional natural gas production, with CSG “just 65% is captured — so we are talking about 35% leakage … into the land, into aquifers, from pipelines, into the air — and this is methane gas, a dramatic greenhouse gas, so this is a massive problem in terms of climate change.”

She said seven wells had been approved in an area “that provides drinking water for four million people … We can stop this, we are already starting to win. We have an inquiry, we have some restrictions on fracking. It’s not enough, but it shows the power of our campaign … We are more powerful than any mining company, we are more powerful than this government.”

Michael McNamara, an activist with the Lock The Gate Alliance, the umbrella group involving almost 100 anti-CSG campaign groups, called for an immediate moratorium on all CSG activity and a Royal Commission into all aspects of CSG mining.

GetUp’s national director, Simon Sheikh, outlined GetUp’s plans for ads countering the CSG industry’s lies, and called on Barry O’Farrell’s government “to abandon their obsession with mining”.

Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham outlined a bill he was bringing before state parliament to call for a moratorium on CSG mining, “so the O’Farrell government will be able to show whether it’s with the community, or with the CSG companies”.

Stop CSG Sydney’s ongoing campaign includes an upcoming national day of action organised by Lock The Gate and the handing over of more than 10,000 signatures on petitions.

[To get in touch with Stop CSG Sydney, visit or call Paul 0410 629 088, Jacinta 0425 207 180 or Moira 0420 504 411.]

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