Tuesday, 30 September 2014

'NOT CSG FREE' - NSW Labor Opposition Leader John Robertson cravenly betrays the Clarence Valley

At the NSW Labor State Conference in July 2014 the following urgency motion was passed by the political wing of the party:

That Conference:
1. Notes:
a) on the NSW North Coast there is overwhelming community opposition to Coal Seam Gas and Unconventional Gas mining and mining operations;
b) the community's concern relates to the harmful effects of CSG mining on water quality, farm lands, the environment, communities, residents' health and tourism;
c) the CSG industry has no social license to operate on the NSW North Coast;
d) the NSW North Coast has unique environmental qualities; and
e) CSG mining is incompatible with the NSW North Coast's important employment sectors including tourism and agriculture;
2. Condemns the NSW Liberal/National Party Government's pro-CSG fracking, drilling and expansion agenda on the NSW North Coast; and
3. Calls on the NSW Labor Party to:
a) support an immediate moratorium on all CSG activities and licences within the boundaries of the State Parliamentary seats of Lismore, Ballina, Clarence, and Tweed on the NSW North Coast; and
b) support a declaration that the State Parliamentary seats of Lismore, Ballina, Clarence and Tweed be 'CSG Free' and therefore be off limits to the Coal Seam Gas and Unconventional Gas industries.
[Janelle Saffin & Justine Elliot Federal Labor MP for Richmond]

On 30 September 2014 the parliamentary wing of the NSW Labor Party announced that it had incorporated a ‘CSG Free’ Northern Rivers into the policies it is taking to the March 2015 state election.

Robertson, Spooner, Smith and Goodman Media Release 29 September 2014:

The Northern Rivers region is unique.
It is one of Australia’s most biologically diverse areas supporting a variety of significant habitats. Many parts of the Northern Rivers have been given World Heritage recognition, and the region is also home to key industries like tourism, manufacturing and agriculture which support thousands of local jobs.
It is the job of a responsible government to protect the Northern Rivers from activities which threaten the region’s precious environment, local industry, businesses and agricultural land.
Good economic development must support and enhance our environment – and Labor will ensure the risks associated with the expansion of CSG and unconventional gas will not threaten the Northern Rivers.
Yours sincerely
John Robertson

Unfortunately NSW Labor Opposition Leader John Robertson has decided that the Clarence Valley, its vital water catchment, tourism, sugar cane, commercial ocean/estuary fishing, forestry and cattle do not form part of the Northern Rivers and he has excised this region from his pledge to voters:
Labor is committed to ensuring we do not compromise the quality of drinking water supplies by allowing CSG and unconventional gas exploration within the core catchment areas.
Labor will declare a total ban of CSG and unconventional gas in the Northern Rivers of NSW, encompassing the local government areas of Ballina Shire, Byron Shire, Kyogle Shire, Lismore City, Tweed Shire, and Richmond Valley. This region is pristine and stunning with World Heritage listed national parks and recreational areas.
It has a unique quality of life with a blend of lifestyles ranging from alternative to agriculture. It has a mild, sub-tropical climate with a significant elderly and retirement population. The region also has the nation’s most significant internal migration in Australia.
The industries of tourism, cattle, sugar and dairy all rely on the area’s natural values.
The environmental values of the region are internationally significant. The development of the CSG and unconventional gas industry would fundamentally undermine these environmental assets and the economic drivers that rely on them and should not be allowed. [my red bolding]

When I telephoned his Sydney office I was told “at least you have the moratorium”. As if this lesser pledge, to only allow the Clarence Valley to be turned into unconventional gas fields after Labor has ‘explored’ the issue, was a given and not the open-ended election promise that it is:

Moratorium on all Coal Seam Gas:

* Labor will implement an immediate moratorium on Coal Seam Gas across the state. We will suspend all coal seam gas exploration licenses and stop any new extraction licenses being issued.
* Coal seam gas drilling poses clear and present risks to the integrity of our State’s drinking water. It has the potential to damage aquifers, interfere with fragile marine life and compromise our food basin.

Ban CSG from around core drinking water catchments:

* Labor will ban CSG from around core drinking water catchments. This recognises that there are certain no-go zones where coal seam gas extraction should never be allowed.
* In 2013 Labor introduced legislation to ban CSG from drinking water catchments in Sydney and the Illawarra. Labor is committed to exploring similar protections in catchments right across NSW. [Office of the Leader of the Opposition 30 September 2014]

Any Labor candidate standing in the seat of Clarence in 2015 need not bother knocking on my door – he or she has lost my vote from this day forward.

Nor will the Federal Member for Richmond Justine Elliot be receiving any favourable words from me in future, given the part she and the former Federal MP for Page Janelle Saffin played in abandoning the Clarence Valley to an uncertain future at the hands of a rapacious unconventional gas industry, as well as their misleading social and mainstream media statements.

As for Messrs. Spooner, Smith and Goodman standing as Labor candidates in the aforementioned favoured electorates. They were well aware of what they were condoning when they put their names to this betrayal of the southern-most parts of the Northern Rivers. They can expect that I will not be offering them any support either and will be loudly reminding people of their political perfidy during the 2015 state election campaign.


On 29 October 2014 NSW Labor announced that it had decided to include the Clarence Valley in its policy permanently banning coal seam gas/tight gas/unconventional gas exploration, mining and production in the Northern Rivers region.


Anonymous said...

and what are the Nationals doing for you... oh that's right they are busy hiding out and wishing that the focus is on everyone except them...wake up for at least Labour is putting forward policies that reflect local concerns...but the pro CSG Nationals never do!!!!

Anon said...

I am especially amused the ALP comment; "2. Condemns the NSW Liberal/National Party Government's pro-CSG fracking, drilling and expansion agenda on the NSW North Coast;".

In cynical layman's terms, what this translates to is; "The NSW ALP are just pulling a political stunt we never never intend to fulfill. Prior to mid 2014 we also had pro-CSG fracking, drilling and expansion agenda on the NSW North Coast. Whilst we were in power our north coast members and reps did bugger all about changing that as they're gutless. But now we're so desperate to get in we'll do or say anything as we believe the majority of voters are unthinking morons".

Just watch the ALP leopard change its spots at a whim.

clarencegirl said...

Anon (9 October 2014 09:55)

To be fair, there have been no state Labor MPs on the North Coast for years and, the last two North Coast federal Labor MPs consistently spoke up against CSG in Parliament, in the media, to mining investors and also to Metgasco.

It was these two who put the successful motion to the 2014 NSW Labor conference which saw it call for a "CSG Free'Northern Rivers - inclusive of the Clarence Valley.

Unfortunately Opposition Leader John Robertson just couldn't resist playing silly buggers with that conference resolution when they took their eye off the ball.

Anon said...

When I said members, I meant ALP branch members. Not the two MPs you mentioned.