Independent NSW MP Justin Field has described the NSW Government’s move to fast-track a vote on the CSG Moratorium Bill yesterday as extraordinary and a sign they know they don’t have community support for their position on this issue.
Justin Field said, “What we saw in NSW Parliament was extraordinary. The NSW Liberal National Government abandoned their entire parliamentary agenda to force this legislation to a vote to avoid the community campaign they knew was coming to pressure regional Nationals MPs on the bill.
“This vote tells you all you need to know about the priorities of the leadership of the NSW National Party these days. John Barilaro and his leadership team are putting the interests of mining companies and big political donors ahead of protecting water and farming communities."
The Coal Seam Gas Moratorium Bill, Introduced by Independent MP Justin Field, passed the Legislative Council 20 votes to 17 at midnight on Wednesday. By 8am Thursday morning the Government had announced they would suspend their entire agenda to force it to a vote in the Legislative Assembly that day. The bill was ultimately was blocked in the Lower House by 38 votes to 36. Labor, The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, the Greens, Animal Justice and all independent MPs voted for the Legislation in both houses.
Mr Field said, “the NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro was running scared, he didn’t want to give time for regional communities to lobby local Nationals MPs because he knows the concern about the coal seam gas industry on the ground in those communities is genuine and deeply held.
“This bill didn’t ban coal seam gas. It put in place a moratorium until the protections for water and regional communities were ensured. To vote against those protections is to put at risk water resources like the Great Artesian Basin and the farming communities who rely on it.
“A Parliamentary Inquiry late last year found half of the recommendations of the NSW Chief Scientist’s 2014 Independent Report into the Coal Seam Gas industry had not been implemented despite the Government having publicly accepted all recommendations and recognising they were essential if the risk of the coal seam gas industry could be mitigated.
“That’s why this bill was necessary. It held the Government to their own commitments. Instead they’ve walked away from protecting water, ensuring farmers would be insured against risks and are exposing regional communities to a legacy of pollution.
“The Nationals have lost five seats in the last two elections off the back of their neglect for farmers and their unwillingness to stand up and protect land and water. It speaks volumes that many of the Nationals MPs in areas where coal seam gas has been an issue didn’t even speak on the bill yesterday.
“This campaign now moves to the Independent Planning Commission which is expected to receive a formal referral to consider the Santos Narrabri Gas Project as early as this month.
“Santos have failed to address genuine concerns by the community and government agencies about their project and have breached the agreement they struck with the NSW Coalition Government in 2014. There are significant water management and waste salt issues that have not been resolved from the company. This project represents an industrialisation of the landscape that is not compatible with a farming district, a significant area of critical woodland and a recharge zone for the Great Artesian Basin.”
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