Northern Tablelands’ candidates respond to weight of community concern around coal and CSG
North West Alliance
22nd May 2013
All candidates except Nationals candidate Adam Marshall have shown support for a moratorium on coal seam gas mining until more scientific research is conducted. Statements about these matters were made in response to questions put to all candidates by the North West Alliance.
“The questions asked candidates whether they supported a moratorium on unconventional gas development and new coal mines or expansions until rigorous scientific studies have been completed” said Bea Bleile, spokesperson for Armidale Action on Coal Seam Gas and Mining.
“Candidates were asked whether they will support a proper health impact assessment into proposed coal and gas exploration and mining in the local area and ‘no-go’ zones for mining in productive agricultural areas, important groundwater sources and high conservation value lands.
“The final question was ‘Will you publicly advocate for NSW and Federal Governments to implement the policy positions set out above?’
“We were disappointed that the statements from Nationals candidate Adam Marshall were not stronger on this issue. He fell back on the status quo of the NSW Government’s current policies and plans. However, we know they are woefully inadequate and will not protect farmland and water resources in our region.
“Mr Marshall did say that ‘coal seam gas activities with unacceptable impacts will not be approved by the NSW Government’ and, if elected, we will be asking him to push for real reforms and legal changes to deliver on that statement.
“Independent Katherine Nicholson was the first to respond. She unequivocally answered ‘Yes’ to all questions and added ‘The environmental and economic future of the Northern Tablelands region depends upon clean air and clean water. Our prime agricultural land must be protected and it is time to act on climate change.’
“Greens candidate Dora Koop’s, Dr Jim Maher and CDP candidate Silvana Nero also answered all questions in the affirmative. Ms Koops emphasised the importance of these questions.
“Dr Maher expanded on the support he provided to our campaign so far, including through Armidale Dumaresq Council, the NSW Local Government Association Conference and the Country Mayors’ Association. He vowed to fight to protect our prime agricultural areas, important groundwater sources and high conservation value lands.
“Ms Nero wrote ‘In brief: If it is not safe to extract it stays where it is’ and, in response to the final question ‘Most definitely we will publicly state our position in all areas possible.’ ”
“We welcome Country Labor candidate Herman Beyersdorf’s strong support for a moratorium on coal seam gas mining, but are disappointed by other responses – he did not commit to a health impact assessment or a moratorium on new coal mine developments.
Only Independent Bill Bush failed to respond to the survey of candidates for the Northern Tablelands by-election on May 25 conducted by the North West Alliance.
Armidale Action on Coal Seam Gas and Mining is a member of the North West Alliance which comprises 30 community groups concerned about the threat coal and coal seam gas mining pose to bushland and farmland, to our water and our health. For the full responses from candidates and for more information contact [email protected] or Bea Bleile on 0458 752 680.