NSW Energy Minister Chris Hartcher has given the clearest indication yet that he is about to green-light the CSG industry in this state. Mr Hartcher is reported to have told an energy forum in Armidale that coal seam gas will be accepted as an energy source, "just like uranium".
The ABC reported that Mr Hartcher told the energy forum (which excluded renewable energy companies) that the community is no longer concerned about uranium exploration and mining and that community concern about coal seam gas will "move on".
The Coalition's long-awaited strategic land use policy is being taken to Cabinet this week and is likely to be released by the end of the month.
Mr Hartcher told The Australian he hopes CSG extraction will begin in NSW next year and that it will break the nexus between green groups and traditional National Party voters.
"We've got to change the paradigm from 'Oh no, they've discovered gas on my land', to 'Great, they've discovered gas on my land - that's going to give me a drought-proofing income'," Mr Hartcher said.
I don't think Mr Hartcher has spent too much time talking to people in the Northern Rivers. The ever-expanding road closure movement continues to spread across the region (see story page 8), consistently coming back with percentages in the high 90s of people saying they don't want CSG mining in the region.
This week I got a phone call from Annie Kia, the woman who initiated the CSG-free roads movement at The Channon several months ago. Since then dozens of North Coast communities have come together and replicated what was done at The Channon; people walking from house to house, talking to their neighbours about the issues and collecting data about the level of opposition to the industry.
Annie has now been invited to speak to communities across NSW, as well as in Victoria and Queensland, and the model she developed is being heralded as the best way forward for communities to unite and show their opposition.
Mr Hartcher, we don't want uranium and the CSG issue is not going to "move on".