Newcastle Trades Hall Council (NTHC) and Lock The Gate 14 May 2013 statement:
The Lock The Gate Alliance looks forward to working with the Newcastle Trades Hall Council, after the peak union body declared it is totally opposed to further coal seam gas (CSG) exploration and drilling in the Hunter Valley.
The motion passed by the Council cites risks to the environment and the community, and concerns for agricultural lands and townships, and supports the NTHC working closely with groups opposing CSG until the unconventional gas mining practice is proven safe.
NTHC Secretary Gary Kennedy said that CSG drilling technology was not proven to be safe. “The dangers to aquifers, the environment and the community are real, with little public benefit,” he said.
“While it is true that there is a shortage of natural gas, this is because we are selling our gas to overseas markets to maximise corporate profits.”
“The NSW Government have not gone far enough to fully protect the environment, landowners, and the community,” said Kennedy.
Lock The Gate's regional coordinator for the Hunter, Steve Phillips, welcomed the involvement of the NTHC in the campaign to protect the Hunter Valley from CSG. “The movement to protect the Hunter Valley from CSG includes residents groups, farmers, vignerons [wine producers], and environmentalists. It now includes the peak trade union body in the region — the Trades Hall Council,” he said.
“People and organisations are uniting to fight coal seam gas, because CSG is a major threat to farmland, ecosystems, waterways, and public health. Propaganda from both gas companies and the NSW Government — through it's laughable CSG “information” website — cannot hide the facts.”
“In Queensland, where the CSG industry has been allowed to take hold, the worst fears of the community are coming true. Gas is leaking up uncontrollably from the ground, and from rivers. Kids are getting sick. Communities are being destroyed.”
“More than 80% of surveyed residents in Tara report health problems since the development of the British Gas-owned CSG field there. Symptoms include coughs, chest tightness, rashes, difficulty sleeping, joint pains, muscle pains and spasms, nausea, vomiting, spontaneous nose bleeds, skin irritation, and eye irritation.”
“Lock The Gate welcomes the inclusion of the Trades Hall Council in this critical campaign to protect public health, agriculture, ecosystems, and waterways from coal seam gas drilling,” concluded Phillips.