I FEEL for John Gibson. As the president of the Lismore show society he and his management committee have been put between a rock and a hard place: trying to balance the financial interests of their organisation with the need not to alienate a large section of the community opposed to CSG mining. In rejecting sponsorship money from Metgasco (and any other CSG companies that might come calling), they have put principle before profit.
Woodford Folk Festival experienced a backlash from festival goers over its decision to accept money from mining giant Santos last year. They put in place a taskforce to set some guidelines for sponsorship and determine whether they should give the Santos money back. (An announcement is due next week).
The Lismore Lantern Parade has also knocked back sponsorship money from energy company AGL (who have CSG mining projects in the Hunter, Gloucester and Camden regions. It seems surprising that they want to buy goodwill from the people of Lismore, but apparently they do.)
It's a vexed issue; by accepting sponsorship money are you showing your support for the company and their activities? And are people attending an event supporting the sponsors just by turning up?
For some people the line is clear, but I think it is a little hazy.
The show society's position is certainly in line with community sentiment, as shown through attendance at rallies, meetings and the growing road closure movement. The CSG issue has brought together people from all walks of life in this community, much as the North Coast National does.
Let's hope the level of community action we have seen translates into support for the show.
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