coal seam gas

The NSW government looks to be on the skids after a 30% swing against the Liberals in the September 8 byelection in the rural seat of Wagga Wagga. Independent Joe McGirr won the seat which had been a Liberal stronghold for 61 years.

“If we want to look after people and the land as we repower New South Wales [with renewable energy] we have to fight for it”, George Woods from Lock the Gate told a large rally of First Nations people, farmers and city-dwellers who took over Martin Place near NSW Parliament on March 24.

Gamilaraay elder Auntie Bowie Hickey and daughter Vanessa Hickey expressed their deep gratitude to those protesting outside a gas industry forum on August 3.

The Wilderness Society called the protest to highlight the widespread opposition to Santos’ Narrabri gas project in the Pilliga Forest.

Alice Pearl Daiguma Eather, a young Aboriginal community leader, activist and teacher, died aged 28 in the Aboriginal township of Maningrida, Northern Territory on June 4. Speakers at her funeral and wake summed up Alice as having “a beautiful spirit, a remarkable life”.

Alice was a bilingual primary school teacher and slam poet as well as an activist against coal seam gas (CSG) mining. More than 500 family, friends, supporters and members of the Maningrida community attended Alice’s funeral at Mount Gravatt in Brisbane and more attended her wake in West End.

The NSW Country Women’s Association passed a motion at its state conference on May 27 calling for a halt to any further “unconventional gas exploration” in NSW — a ban on coal seam gas. The motion was put by the Maules Creek branch.

It flies in the face of last week’s announcement by NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro that he wanted an expansion of the CSG industry, although not on the Liverpool Plains.

It is rare to see such a powerful film as Brendan Shoebridge’s The Bentley Effect, which focuses on the successful struggle by Northern Rivers communities to save their land and water from the coal seam gas juggernaut at Bentley, near Lismore, in New South Wales.

The power of community is often talked about, but this film shows how it actually happened, in a powerful tale of political awakening among several generations.

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.

Australia’s largest energy company, AGL Energy, says Australia’s transition away from a coal-powered national grid to renewables will largely bypass gas, and shift straight to wind and solar.

As politicians and the gas lobby talk about the need to guarantee supply of gas, the company founded 180 years ago as the Australian Gas Light Company, says the combination of wind and solar and battery storage is already cheaper than new gas generators.

Thousands of submissions are being written across NSW opposing oil and gas giant Santos’s environmental impact statement (EIS) for its Narrabri Gas Project in the Pilliga. Before the May 22 deadline, thousands more will be written.

If the community’s views are heard, Santos’ plan to drill 850 coal seam gas (CSG) wells at 425 sites in and around the Pilliga State Forest near Narrabri — covering an area of about 1000 hectares — will be canned. 

Jesse Lee* is organising the Sydney leg of the March in March protest on March 25. She lives in Sydney’s west and is the primary carer for one of her children. She has first-hand experience of the welfare cuts and the vagaries of the disability support scheme. 

Lee put her hand up to organise the Sydney march because she strongly believes that protests are important and they work. She also believes that now is not the time to be quiet.

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