Friday, 23 January 2015
The NSW Baird Government reveals its political sensitivity concerning its Gas Plan via this exchange in the letters section of The Daily Examiner, a regional newspaper in the Clarence Valley.
The first brief letter by a Lower Clarence resident elicited a misleading official comeback within days.
Letter to the editor published on 15 January 2015:
Gas Plan an insult
IT WILL take more than a picture of a young girl testing the waters of what seems to be a pristine dam, to convince the NSW taxpayers that their money is well spent on these full page NSW Gas Plan advertisements.
Such propaganda will not work as people are far too intelligent to be fooled into thinking we don't need to worry about CSG mining now that the NSW Government has created a website.
It is an insult to the intelligence of the community who have overwhelmingly voiced their opposition to unconventional gas mining in the Northern Rivers.
The "NSW Gas Plan" does nothing to stop landholders and communities being forced into giving access to their land against their will and has no improved safeguards for human health in the plan.
Every council on the North Coast has now asked for petroleum exploration licences to be revoked. It is obvious the Government is NOT listening to the voters of NSW and spending huge amounts of taxpayers' money to advertise something they do not support is disappointing to say the least.
Letter to the editor published on 19 January 2015:
Gas Plan defence
I AM writing in response to a letter published in your newspaper (15/1) headed: "Gas Plan an insult".
The author claims that an advertorial outlining the NSW Government's comprehensive Gas Plan is an insult to the intelligence of the community.
It is unfortunate that the reader has interpreted the advertorials in this manner. The aim is to raise awareness amongst the community that this State, for the first time, has a plan for the safe and sustainable development of our local gas reserves.
The advertorials will hopefully stimulate people to try to learn more about the plan, the debate and the evidence we have in relation to the risks, the science, the industry and the actions being taken across Government, as we try to balance the economic, environmental and social needs of our State.
This includes a range of actions, which contrary to what is claimed in the letter, cover water, environment, community and landholders' interests.
For example, the use of evaporation ponds and BTEX has been banned. New guidelines for community consultation practices have been set. New codes/standards for well engineering and fracture stimulation practices have been set and peer reviewed by the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Mary O'Kane.
Groundwater studies have been completed on the Gunnedah, Gloucester and Clarence- Moreton basins, and the list goes on.
In total, more than 30 measures were introduced before the Gas Plan, and the Gas Plan itself adds a significant number of additional measures, including the NSW Government's acceptance of all of Professor O'Kane's recommendations.
The plan also outlines new measures aimed at ensuring community and landholders can share more directly in the benefits of gas exploration and development in their areas.
Again, the plan builds on advances already made in this area, such as the review of the arbitration system for land access agreements and the public commitments made by Santos and AGL not to seek access to a landholders' property if the landholder does not want them on their land.
So much has been done in recent years to better balance the economic, social and environmental issues of this industry. The advertorials simply aim to raise awareness of this fact and encourage people to learn more.
Lastly, it is also important to note that it is not correct to imply all people in NSW oppose this industry.
As with all industrial activities, there are those who support it, those who oppose it ... and those who are not interested in the debate or have not yet made up their minds.
Hopefully, for those who are curious about learning more, the Gas Plan will be a helpful place to start.
For more information, please visit gasplan.nsw.gov.au
Deputy Secretary, Resources & Energy, NSW Trade & Investment
Bite back at Gas Plan propaganda in The Daily Examiner letters section on 23 January 2015:
Gas plan hard sell
THE NSW Government is spending thousands upon thousands of taxpayer dollars in advertisements to try to sell their so-called NSW Gas Plan to the residents of the Northern Rivers.
This is an obvious attempt to shore up votes for the coming State election in those seats where National Party candidates are most likely to suffer voter backlash from many disillusioned members of the community.
It is not a genuine attempt to inform, educate and consult.
Many citizens would like the right of reply to these advertisements but we do not have the vast amount of dollars required to buy the necessary newspaper space and radio time to counteract the misleading statements in this patronising propaganda.
The main avenue for us, the voters, to have our say regarding our concerns, is by writing letters to the editors of our local newspapers. We are grateful for this opportunity; however, there is limited space in the newspapers to publish our letters - certainly not a full page plus one bonus advertorial half-page.
So it is unjust and inappropriate that Kylie Hargreaves, deputy secretary, resources and energy, NSW Trade and Investment, should write a 457-word letter (19/1) to The Daily Examiner to refute the written opinion of a member of the public (15/1).
The Government is already bombarding us with advertisements - we open a newspaper or other local publication, we turn on the radio or, worst of all, in the privacy of our own home we log into our Facebook page to connect to our friends, and up pops a NSW Government Gas Plan ad.
Please, Ms Hargreaves, leave us at least one forum where we can have our say without interference from the Government.
And while I have this opportunity, may I point out the NSW Gas Plan is not about "Keeping our water pure", "Securing farming future" or "Protecting future generations."
It is all about ensuring that the gas industry proceeds throughout NSW.Rosemary Joseph,