Clarence Valley Against Coal Seam Gas (CSG) Mining members take part in the demonstration along the Pacific Highway against coal seam gas.
Clarence Valley Against Coal Seam Gas (CSG) Mining members take part in the demonstration along the Pacific Highway against coal seam gas. Caitlan Charles

Fight against CSG reignites

THE SOUNDS of beeping cars and yells of support were heard as motorists drove past the peaceful anti-coal seam gas protest.

Taking part of a national movement, Australia's Longest Roadside Demonstration centred around the notion that water is life, members of the Clarence Valley Against Coal Seam Gas (CSG) Mining group gathered to ensure their voices were heard near the viaduct on the Pacific Highway in Grafton with many other groups lining the Pacific Highway from the Queensland border south.

One of those members, Kylie Kelly, had a personal connection to the Valley's fight against CSG mining.

"This is a state issue in NSW and it's still an issue that we want to bring to peoples attention, it's not something that has gone off the radar completely," she said.

"I am a farmer, I grow organic crops, I have a mortgage and basically your property becomes worthless if you've got coal seam gas in the area and you can't run your business, and basically you are trapped paying off your mortgage while other people are doing things on your land.

"The situation here is not like Queensland where you have thousand acre cattle properties, this is cattle properties on 100, 200 acres so it would be quite an intensive situation to have coal seam gas wells throughout this community.

"We feel that is too close to where people live, supposedly there was an exclusion zone around towns but not around rural properties that tells you yes there is something wrong with it, but you're collateral damage."

In 2012, Mrs Kelly joined the protests in Glenugie when Metgasco began exploring the prospect of CSG in the Clarence Valley.

"It was a 72-day sit in protest of members of the local community, it was over Christmas and we had dedicated people there all the time, it was an impromptu protest... that was a reaction to Metgasco being in our area... and it did slow Metgasco down."

However with new laws passed by the NSW Government, protests like Glenugie could land people in jail with hefty fines.

"(If a CSG came exploring again), my reaction would be, seeing as though I would be facing seven years jail and a $5000 fine, my reaction would be to jump up and down at every election and try and get the Nationals voted out, even if the Labour came back, they would promise to repeal the anti-protester laws, even if the Greens got in, that is a gas field free NSW," Mrs Kelly said.

"I don't know whether I would be running off to protest because I've got children and I can't afford the fines and I can't afford the jail time, what else can I do?

"Politically, that's all we can do, to try and chance the policies politically."

Why did you take part in this demonstration?

 

LOUISE CLEMENTS, Grafton: I'm here because water is life and I have grandchildren whose future I want to protect.
LOUISE CLEMENTS, Grafton: I'm here because water is life and I have grandchildren whose future I want to protect. Caitlan Charles

 

HELEN BADGER, Grafton: I'm here because I've got grandkids and I care about their future. I'm old enough to say what I think and I disagree with things that are abhorrent. This is bringing together all different aspects of society.
HELEN BADGER, Grafton: I'm here because I've got grandkids and I care about their future. I'm old enough to say what I think and I disagree with things that are abhorrent. This is bringing together all different aspects of society. Caitlan Charles

 

JERAD DOYLE, Grafton: I'm here in solidarity with the people. It's a farming country, we should focus on the farmers. I'm here for the farmers of Australia.
JERAD DOYLE, Grafton: I'm here in solidarity with the people. It's a farming country, we should focus on the farmers. I'm here for the farmers of Australia. Caitlan Charles


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