WE HAD a conversation in The Echo office this week that went something like this...
"What do people care more about, koalas or gas?"
The two big issues vying for front page space this week were the Council's Koala Plan of Management and the big Lock the Gate rally and Rock the Gate concert being held in Lismore on Saturday.
Liina Flynn voted for koalas. Jennie Dell said CSG.
These two issues have generated more letters to the editor in the past six months than anything else, by a long way.
The pro-koala plan lobby argues the koala is an iconic, endangered species and we must do whatever we can to improve their habitat to ensure its survival in the region. The anti-koala plan lobby argues it is a further unnecessary intrusion by local government into their lives.
The council's decision to push ahead with a Koala Plan of Management has split some sections of the community, and with the possibility of a rescission motion being launched, it may not be the end of the arguments or the letters.
On the other hand, the anti-CSG movement seems to have brought divergent groups within the community together.
The Channon and Keerong residents' poll and symbolic protest last month seems to have started a wave of similar polls.
There was another meeting this week at Modanville where 301 out of 311 people voted to declare their roads CSG free. (Eight were undecided, two opposed.) Neighbours are getting out and talking to each other and the results keep coming back the same; more than 95% of people surveyed don't want CSG in the region.
"It's about white people fighting for land rights," Jennie says.
"But we have CSG on the front nearly every week," I say, playing devil's advocate.
"But this is the issue of the day. It's what everybody is talking about," says S Sorrensen.
And he's right.
The same groups who oppose the Council's 'intrusion' via the Koala Plan of Management are demanding their rights as landholders not to be ridden roughshod over by mining companies.
They are lining up arm in arm (sometimes reluctantly) with environment groups.
Lismore loves a good protest and this is shaping up to be a big one.
(Organisers have bandied about the figure of 5000 people expected, but this is pure speculation.)
Regardless of the number that takes to the streets on Saturday morning, it is the things that unite us that define us as a community.
We have split the front page this week. Mining companies won't split this community.