CANDIDATES contesting this weekend’s elections in the Moree, Narrabri, Gunnedah and Armidale local government areas have been quizzed by environmental activists about their views on coal seam gas and its impacts.
In a survey circulated by activists, council hopefuls were asked to indicate whether they supported no-gas areas, proper health and environmental assessments and assessments of coal mining impacts.
In addition to the above, other questions asked included would potential councillors support: a moratorium on unconventional gas development; a moratorium on any new coal seam gas expansions; and vote to refuse access to council-controlled lands.
Answers from candidates standing for local council across Moree, Narrabri, Gunnedah and Armidale Dumaresq councils suggested many also supported a moratorium on coal seam gas.
“These results give us a clearer picture of which candidates are going to represent our community interests and protect productive agricultural areas, health and our natural environment from rapid coal and coal seam gas expansion,” said Penny Blatchford of Bellata.
“Overwhelmingly, it’s clear council candidates are concerned about the pace and scale of mining plans, and want to see more information before mining proceeds,” said Bea Bleile of Armidale.
“I asked these questions of candidates seeking information and greater transparency across the mining approval process. I’m concerned for my child and her future, as it is her health that may suffer as a consequence of these mines. I want to know who I am voting for,” Carolyn Bishop of Mullaley, said.
In their responses to the surveys most councillors expressed concerns about coal seam gas but suggested they needed to be more involved in consultation processes and needed to know more about it.
Moree mayor Katrina Humphries returned one of the more extensive responses to the survey, responding with some questions of her own.
“Is our reputation as a major player in the food bowl and our children’s succession rights worth fighting for? Definitely,” she said. “Do we understand the depth to which some of these alleged good guys of the mining industry will stoop to intimidate, stand over and attempt to disarm us and find any weak links in our community chain? Absolutely. The answer to your questionnaire is that I will do my very best to do what is needed to maintain our viability as a community,” she said.
“I hope and trust that the Moree Plains Shire Council will continue to be a leader in this quest, as we were the first council in Australia, I believe, to put a moratorium in place on coal seam gas exploration.”