Liberals and Nationals open the gate and roll out the red carpet for unrestrained CSG mining across NSW

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The Liberal/National Government has today announced it will let rip on Coal Seam Gas (CSG) mining across NSW without the necessary safeguards to ensure the protection of agricultural land and drinking water.

The Liberal and National’s NSW Gas Plan does nothing to restrict CSG mining within existing license areas, provides no new protections for drinking water, farmlands and natural areas, and fails to implement all of the Chief Scientist’s recommendations.

“Today Mike Baird is opening the gate and rolling out the red carpet for unrestrained CSG mining across NSW,” Opposition Leader John Robertson said.

“The Liberals and Nationals have announced that their plan is to open up the CSG industry across this state – well before local communities have any confidence that the industry is safe and operating in a strong regulatory environment – and before the Chief Scientist’s concerns about this industry have been addressed.

“The government’s CSG plan is being rammed through the parliament with absolutely no consultation with the Labor Opposition.

“While Labor supports extinguishing licence applications – an issue we’ve been pushing the government to take action on for the past two years – this plan does not nearly go far enough in protecting local communities and developing the necessary regulatory framework to ensure that CSG mining is done in line with the highest of environmental standards and safety.

“When Mike Baird said last week – "Do we want coal seam gas? Absolutely we do” –he made it very clearthat when it comes to CSG, he is squarely on the side of the industry and not local communities who remain rightly concerned about the impact of this new industry on land and drinking water.

“Mike Baird has today signalled his support for the reckless expansion of this industry before it is safe to proceed - regardless of the cost to our precious drinking water, our environment and our farms.

“The science is still not in on CSG. The government must implement all of the Chief Scientist’s recommendations before any further development of the industry is allowed to occur.

“A key recommendation is for the appointment of a standing expert advisory body on CSG – yet the government has failed to implement this important recommendation to ensure we have the all the facts on CSG.

“No responsible government should permit this industry to grow without knowing what the risks are and whether and how they can be addressed.”

Shadow Minister for the Environment Luke Foley said Labor’s approach to CSG mining included no-go zones where GSG mining will never be allowed to occur, as well as a moratorium on mining with real teeth.

“Labor’s moratorium on CSG mining will remain in place until we are completely sure that we understand our aquifers and the geology that supports them. We cannot let this industry risk the destruction of our water security, prime agricultural lands and pristine natural areas,” Mr Foley said.

“The CSG industry needs to demonstrate to local communities that it can operate safely and with the full confidence of those communities.

“The government even confirmed they will consider reopening the Special Areas of the Sydney Water Catchment for CSG – an area that people cannot even enter without getting a fine.”

Shadow Minister for Energy Adam Searle said that the Liberals’ and Nationals’ claim that taking the leash off GSG mining would stop rising gas prices was dishonest.

“The East Coast of Australia is about to be exposed to the higher international gas market price for the very first time when Queensland starts exporting gas - but the Liberals and Nationals are expecting people to believe that unrestrained CSG mining in NSW will somehow affect the global gas price.

“The only sensible way to keep gas prices affordable for homes and businesses in NSW is to implement a national gas reservation policy – we should be meeting our own demand for gas at a reasonable price before we export overseas at the global price.

“A NSW Labor Government will advocate for the implementation of a national gas reservation policy through COAG to put downward pressure on domestic gas prices. Affordable gas for families and businesses supporting local jobs should come first.”

Under Labor’s for plan for CSG, we will:

  1. Rule out CSG in defined no go zones, including defined water catchment areas, the Northern Rivers of NSW, and key areas such as national parks and residential areas;
  2. Impose a  moratorium across the state and not lift it until the industry is proven to be safe, until we have mapped the aquifers, until we understand the impacts that have been highlighted by Chief Scientist in her report – this work needs to happen BEFORE CSG is allowed to proceed; and
  3. Protect gas prices by advocating for a national gas reservation policy.