Susan's address to Stop CSG Sydney's candidate forum

I would like to acknowledge that we meet on the land of the Cadigal people of the Eora Nation and I pay respect to elders past and present.

I’d like to thank Stop CSG Sydney for inviting me to participate in this forum on behalf of Socialist Alliance.

Unconventional gas mining is unnecessary, dangerous and uses up resources (including *billions in public subsides) that would be better deployed to creating sustainable energy systems.

The extraction process has already been found to be dangerous (US, Queensland, NSW and elsewhere). The discovery last year that uranium had poisoned an aquifer in the Pilliga region where **Santos is drilling was a wake up call that fracking should be halted. As if that wasn’t bad enough, BTEX chemicals have been found in flowback water from ***AGL’s Gloucester CSG drilling wells.

Both the Liberal and ALP state government’s have failed to protect communities from this industry. It has only been thanks to the campaign by farmers, environmentalists and local communities across the country that this industry has been exposed to public scrutiny. As an activist party, Socialist Alliance is proud to stand and struggle with those communities.

No government in NSW should not allow this industry to proceed until it is confirmed that it is safe for humans and environment. We should not be taken in by talk of 'moratoriums' by the major parties. They'll only be in place until the NSW election. The day after, either Baird will declare he has a 'mandate' to help unleash the CSG industry or the ALP will say it can be done in a 'regulated' way. Neither will be telling the truth.

The Coalition's new 'gas plan' - designed to try and silence the issue in this election - is far from being a plan.

Even the water catchment is not being protected under this 'new' plan. Hiding behind the Chief Scientists' report - that the industry *could* work if it stuck to very strict guidelines - is not an answer.

Under pressure, Labor has taken some steps in the right direction - but again not enough. Its position is very similar in essence to that of the Coalition: it supports the unconventional gas industry.

Socialist Alliance believes that for a safe climate, we need to shift to zero emissions within the next decade.

Investment in energy must be limited to technologies that can move us to a zero emissions economy, not commit us to new fossil fuels. Along with other fossil fuels, existing unconventional gas projects must be rapidly phased out, with workers guaranteed a just transition to alternative employment.

Socialist Alliance has a proud record of involvement in the campaign against CSG - and not just in NSW (here in Sydney, Illawarra, New England) but also in Victoria and WA​. As an eco-socialist party we take environmental questions very seriously. Our Coal Seam Gas policy (opposing it) was first adopted in 2011.

One of our candidates for the NSW Legislative Council - Nicole McGregor - is an activist farmer who is involved in the campaign against AGL's test drilling in Gloucester. We do not support fracking there, or in Camden, or St Peters, or anywhere. We want it banned.

The health risks have been well outlined today by Dr Helen Redmond. The only​ reason the industry​ can continue in any way is because it has the support of both major parties.

PEL 463 should never have been granted (under Labor) and should never have been renewed (under the Coalition)​ and it should be extinguished immediately.

If not, the threat of CSG will hang over the heads of Sydney residents (and over the residents of ****Camden) while this license exists.

Thank you.
_________

Notes:

*$4BN per year in subsidies to the coal, oil and gas industry in the form of direct subsidies and tax breaks
**The fact that Santos only received a fine of $1500 from the NSW EPA for says a lot about the priority given by the government to protecting the health of communities in regional areas of NSW.
***AGL delayed reporting this to the EPA – could have been going on for up to 18 months.
**** The Baird government allowed the licence to be sold on to a British company IGas Energy - even while knowing that the only possible place it could try and extract gas is from that part of the PEL area which is is close to a working gas field near Camden. It's clear that Camden residents don't want AGL​ fracking next to their homes.​

Media release date: 
Sunday, February 22, 2015
Media release image: