Letters to the editor - Feb 14

CSG advertising

I UNDERSTAND and appreciate that in order for The Echo to publish each week it does so through the help of advertising dollars. However in a community that is overwhelmingly against CSG and has seen the North Coast National reject CSG, I see it only fit that our beloved community paper reject the advertising tripe spewed out by APPEA that "It's cleaner. It's safer. It's jobs. It is the future".

It pains me to see this nonsense in the paper.

Jeremy Peachey

Lismore Heights

Corporate manipulation

CORPORATE-funded ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) has got off to a flying start in 2013, introducing the Campus Personal Protection Act in Texas, which requires all universities and technical schools to allow concealed handguns on campus.

So far the bill has not passed.

This bill was introduced in partnership with the NRA (National Rifle Association) which the SSAA (Sporting Shooters Association of Australia) models itself on.

Another of ALEC's current projects is to make reporting of factory farm abuse an act of terrorism.

The Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act (the Ag Gag bill) makes it illegal to enter an animal or research facility to take photographs or video.

This legislation was introduced in 10 states in 2011-12 and passed in three, while animal activists prevented its passing in seven. This year the bill has been introduced in another three.

A third ALEC project is the Environmental Literacy Improvement Act, which mandates the teaching of climate change denial in schools. This has previously passed in four states and was introduced in a further three in January.

Another ongoing bill provides loopholes so that gas companies can evade disclosure of fracking chemicals (the Disclosure of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Composition Act). If these substances are as harmless as the corporates say, why is there any need to conceal their identity?

All these bills are drafted by ALEC under corporate direction and handed to politicians, manipulating the democratic process.

Citizens did not vote for a particular administration only to be governed by a cabal of corporations.

This year of the snake sees the forces of conservatism rising, and if an Abbott government is elected, it will signal a swing to conservative values along the lines of the corporate interference and regressive bills above.

Their worst excesses will, however, be avoided through the invaluable watchdog role of another hung parliament.

P. Griffin


Politically motivated?

IT IS interesting that MP Justine Elliot's decision to withdraw from her position as Parliamentary Secretary for Trade would come only after the PM's announcement of an election date set for September 14.

The Lock the Gate movement has been active in the Northern Rivers for at least the last two years but only now has Mrs Elliot decided to publicly renounce her position in a government that has denied so far any commitments on reducing production of CSG.

In an address to the Australian Mining and Resources Seminar on the November 9, 2010, she said: "While gold, coal, copper ores and concentrates comprise Australia's major exports to India, this will soon include liquefied natural gas following the $US20 billion deal between ExxonMobil and Petronet to supply LNG to India from the Gorgon project from 2014."

Admittedly that was 2010 and the change of heart was not on the agenda then, but surely she could have issued a media release after Minister Ferguson, speech on the Energy White Paper launch on November 8, 2012, denouncing his statement that "developing Australia's natural gas reserves to become one of the world's largest LNG exporters, while effectively servicing the domestic market" is one of the visions he has for country.

Not only that but his refusal to set a target for domestic use, citing "Intervention such as reservation policies to force price or supply outcomes are more likely to impede rather than promote supply", is a clear incentive for companies to continue to invest in CSG production.

I urge everyone interested to go and read what these people say and make a judgement for themselves and if the proof is in the pudding, ask Mrs Elliot the following question: would she be prepared to cross the floor of Parliament to stand for CSG?

Cr Gianpiero Battista



Unreasonable demands

Hey Mr Metgasco:

How does it feel - your mining invasion is so despised by the general public (87% of us) that the esteemed and heroic Rural Fire Service, the heart and soul of our community, has refused to co-operate with your unreasonable demands?

Stick that up your bullying coal seam frackin' gas hole.

D. Pomroy



Medical cannabis

Nimbin's HEMP Embassy is urging medical cannabis users and their friends to write to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into medical cannabis. This is the last week left to make a submission with the closing date tomorrow (Friday, February 15). We are more than happy to pass on submissions or we have been assured they can be sent anonymously. Politicians it seems, as well as us, understand the paranoia prohibition causes.

This is a rare chance to get heard, or at least read. Tell them your story. How cannabis helps you and how prohibition affects you.

Perhaps this is the first step in Australia reviewing the cannabis laws and the reefer madness that still seems to grip so many of our decision makers. Mind you, to make any change, they'll have to put up with Big Pharma and the alcohol industry, the Church and the Cartels, the 'Jail Workers Union' and the Police, to name a few, who have major vested interests in not changing the law. On the other hand, there are dozens of countries now finally agreeing medical cannabis is "entirely appropriate", as President Obama said. And he was talking from experience!

Studies in American States where medical cannabis is approved have already shown very significant drops in suicide rates, as well as less alcohol abuse and car accidents. There are untold benefits to be had we believe, including huge health savings. If we can only get medical cannabis started the public's fears will drop away like water subsides after a flood, as they have in America.

Submissions can be emailed to medicalcannabis@parliament.nsw.gov.au

Michael Balderstone

Hemp President


Not the first

Is Australia a world leader in CSG exploration? Can we not draw concrete results from other countries where CSG exploration has had disastrous results? There must be regions somewhere in the world where CSG has destroyed environment, poisoned water supplies and cause multiple deaths and ugly disfigurements?

Surely we are not the first region to be exploited for the coal gas wealth!

Mike Wilson



Questions, lies and spin

So Chris Hartcher now thinks there has not been a single well that has contaminated an aquifer, yet five years ago he talked for over an hour in Parliament about the dangers of CSG including contamination of aquifers.

So which version are we to believe?

That is the question the mainstream media should have asked but unsurprisingly did not. In fact the question should have been: Has there been a single well that has not contaminated an aquifer?

But no, appropriate questions are never asked and as a result these blatantly false statements dishonestly start up a whole heap of new debates.

Come on! If CSG is such a safe and profitable industry give us the proof.

Get baseline data, investigate why kids are getting sick in Tara and Chinchilla. Be open and honest. All we want is to be convinced so we can get on with our lives.

If proof can't be provided, then it is time for a revolution. Time to challenge a system that only benefits the few. Time to end corruption, time for the power of the community to set it right.

For Hartcher and the like, greed has become necessity and we all know that necessity is the mother of inventions. Inventions as in spin and lies.

For Mr Harcher's information, last week the Nepean River, Sydney's water supply, burst its banks and flooded a gas well and holding pond, poisoning Sydney's water supply. Wonder what spin he is putting on that?

Philippe Dupuy



Where's the real crime?

I'm expressing my thanks to those 40 or 50 police officers doing their duty at Doubtful Creek. The vast majority of you were firm but gentle and just as non-violent as we were. Thank you to all those officers who, maybe against their own inner convictions, did a wonderful job.

One of the roles of your job is to maintain "social order". I'm wondering whether you have ever thought about what that means. Does it include protecting activities that are clearly forced upon an overwhelming majority of citizens by a private company? Does it include doing the dirty work for the profit interest of directors and shareholders? Does it include enforcing laws no matter what these laws entail? Or would you dare to say 'no' if a "lawful" activity is viewed by the vast majority of people as unfair and wrong?

Mind you, laws are made by parliamentarians, some of them as corrupt and callous as Eddie Obeid, Ian MacDonald and their mates - God knows how many more have not been found out yet.

Throughout history police have used their extraordinary powers to either subjugate people or foster change to a fairer system by collectively siding with the people. It's in your power, too. Each of you can decide to say "no - we won't take action against those people whose dedication is to preserve the very essence of our life: water, soil and clean air". If only one says no, he or she will be disciplined. If all of you said no, you would be heroes.

Isn't it your duty as police officers to protect us citizens against crimes? One crime that is being committed is invading people's backyards and farms, in many cases ruining years of building up a peaceful farming existence, trashing people's sleep at night and their health in general, polluting ground water, releasing toxins into water bodies and soils. And CSG mining doesn't do anything to abate carbon emissions.

If this is not a crime against the people, I don't know what is. Please protect us.

It is your choice to either do the bidding of shady politicians and cold-hearted CEOs or to listen to common sense, your heart, your family and the community you live in. It's up to each of you to be remembered as a man or woman who stood up to be counted or to bow to pressure and just do your job. Stand up and do the right thing - your children will be proud of you!

Michael Qualmann



Living with CSG

In response to Ian Sharman's letter 'Export is good' (Echo, February 7):

True we need to export, but how silly to export what we need then buy it back? Most CSG is intended for overseas. There is also a big difference between drilling through an aquifer for water, and

drilling through an aquifer for CSG. In your conversation with Mr Hartcher, or with Metgasco workers, did you happen to ask them what chemicals they will put down there, and how much? Please inform yourself of these facts, if you can get a definite answer from either one.

The answer to the number of litres of chemicals will surprise you.

Mr Sharman, are you going to live at Teven, or your "affected" property? Have you spoken to the affected property owners from Tara or Chincillla to get their first-hand accounts of living with CSG wells?

Hilary O'Brien



Skill up Aussie residents

Michael Easson is the chairman of the Ministerial Council on Skilled Migration and a fervent proponent that skilled migration is the key to a thriving and cohesive economy.

"One of the quiet achievements of Australian public policy during the past decade has been our skilled migration program. Under successive governments it has become focused on delivering the skills Australia needs when it needs them," he said. In 2012-13, Australia accepted about 200,000 permanent migrants, of which about 125,000 were skilled.

"Criticisms and suggestions for modifications should not be excuses for drastically changing one of the great success stories of the past decade. This story is the gradual development of a market-influenced immigration program that links skills to jobs," he said.

One might wonder how such an ignoramus comes to be chair of the Ministerial Council on Skilled Migration. It's been how many decades since our pathetic lot of politicians averred to skill up Australians through increased TAFE courses, more home-grown doctors, vets , plumbers, horticulturalists, engineers, etcetera? Since the reality is politicians are the lapdogs of profiteering capitalism we have the opposite result.

Pollies love it (skilled migration) because it stimulates economic growth, even though this growth hurts quality of life. Budgets require far less for higher education. Business wants overseas skilled migrants because it is so much cheaper to let others train your workforce. Business loves all those immigrants as it depresses wages.

Narcissism, greed and stupidity have won. We simply evolved too fast in relation to our ability to exploit and pollute.

Wasn't Gina going to import engineers from overseas because indolent out of work Aussies didn't want to there for the wages offered? We are told CEOs have to be hired at multiple million dollar salaries with multi-million dollar bonuses, regardless of performance, because it's the only way to get the skilled worker needed. So why aren't Aussie engineers offered more?

I bet they'd all go out back for $350,000 per annum.

Paul Recher



Forests not valued

Took a look at Forests NSW new 'corporatised' website, the graphics of which mirror new signage now being seen in regional areas. These signs and website promote forests for active recreation with lots of bikes and fun stuff, like shooting, and totally omit any mention of forests being areas for wildlife, protecting biodiversity and the passive appreciation of scenic beauty.

It's interesting to see how blatantly the gearing up for the commercial industrial uses of our forests now is under the O'Farrell government. The website glowingly talks about carbon solutions from forests and opportunities for investors in renewable tradeable energy products, while the usual rant about wood left to decompose on forest floors being not good as CO² storage indicates the total disregard of forest ecology by state Forests NSW. Coupled with the attack on our forests by coal seam gas and coal miners, it is time the people of NSW stood up and told the O'Farrell government to get their dirty hands off our forests.

M Mizzi



Police behaviour

I have seen pictures and heard reports of police hurting CSG protesters whilst carrying out arrests. A young pacifist friend of mine was punched in the stomach. This sort of behaviour is unacceptable and I wonder why I am not seeing reports of police offenders being charged with assault?

Mike Birch



Feral threat

As expected, virulent and maliciously fanciful claims against Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (P. Griffin, Echo, February 7) and NSW Game Council occurred in replies to letters from RJ Poole and Diana Melham (Echo, January 31). Paradoxically, I thought it was just great to see these, as we have set a new record of three negative/anti-hunting replies in just a single issue.

Unfortunately these letters exhibited yet more shining examples of how our community is becoming rapidly disunited over dealing with the devastating threat of invasive/feral animal species, with crushing and negative effects on all native biodiversity. So hopefully this "triple-tirade" will jolt "pure" target-only shooters, smaller farmers and arm-chair conservationists into becoming more active in supporting ethical conservation hunting and themselves becoming part of the anti-feral animal solution.

It has been obvious for some time that animal-rightists and extreme deep-greens are not talking or listening to anyone else now, except those of their own dogma. So perhaps more open-minded readers could access Professor Tim Flannery's latest essay: 'After the Future - Australia's New Extinction Crisis'. It is so much later than we think regarding threats from invasive and feral species. It's actually so late that it's now a matter of "all hands to the pumps"!

As Winston Churchill said - "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen". May we all take note of this 'bon mot'. Then perhaps we can become more co-operative in solving important conservation matters, rather than listening to people using scare-stories and scoring esoteric debating points for pre-determined political ends.

Rob Andrews

East Lismore


Playing politics with the devil

It's clear that Minister Burke's decision to leave the Tarkine Wilderness open to mining and other development is a political ploy in an attempt to retain two Tasmanian federal seats which are only marginally held by Labor at present.

Apart from allowing the Tarkine to be environmentally threatened (it is the largest remaining Gondwana forest left in Tasmania), the only remaining healthy Tasmanian devils live there. To reduce the safety of their habitat in the Tarkine is despicable in my terms, and the Federal Government's so-called concern for this creature is a sham.

Cherie Imlah,



Nationals candidate's CSG stance

For some time I have had increasing reservations over CSG mining in our community. After wide consultation, research and consideration, I have come to the opinion that I do not support CSG mining in the Northern Rivers given the scientific risks and the social and cultural impacts on the community.

Last week I toured the gas fields in Tara and Kogan and have seen first-hand the effects of CSG mining on the environment and the community. I went to the CSG fields in Queensland with reservations about the industry and returned with grave concerns. The infrastructure is incredibly invasive and properties are devalued when CSG is next door. Given farms are much smaller in our region the impact would be even greater.

Whilst the introduction of state regulations here in NSW was a positive step, I have not been convinced that the policy is strong enough. The concern about potential aquifer contamination and air pollution have not in my opinion been answered satisfactorily.

After I had researched, listened to both sides and seen CSG production first-hand, I asked myself if I would like a well on or near my property. The answer is no. I run a cattle property in the area and I would not want CSG on or near my farm. I sympathise greatly with those who are fighting on this principle and cannot expect others to accept CSG mining into their neighbourhood if I would not accept it into mine.

But I know that it is not enough to talk the talk. My pledge is that I will loudly oppose any attempts to withdraw or water down regulations on the CSG industry, and pledge to support any legislation that will safeguard the Northern Rivers from CSG, including any way we can pause or suspend CSG activities. I would cross the floor of Parliament on this issue if necessary.

I cannot support the CSG industry here on the North Coast while there are still so many environmental and social question marks.

Kevin Hogan

Nationals Candidate for Page


Unsafe industry

A response to Ian Sharman (Echo, February 7th)

Dear, Dear Ian, our local non - share holding citizen who has so much integrity and honesty that he had lunch in the Workers Club with the impeccably honest and forthcoming infamous 'I don't know' Brad Hazzard on Wednesday, December 5, after the Lismore City Hall meeting. Fact - CSG, tight sands gas and shale gas extraction are not scientifically proven to be safe.

You say we need to balance the budget with export. How do we balance the Australian budget with export when the companies are foreign owned and are often selling the gas to themselves? The people I work and socialise with try to buy 'Aussie made' at all times. What happened to Australia being largely self-sufficient? It sure was when I was growing up.

If you intend future generations to live, breathe and eat from this region like you claim to have done, then CSG and tight sands gas needs to be kept at bay.

When gas mining first came to this region I was not worried, believing it to be fine. Only after holidaying with relations in Gladstone, touring through mid-west Queensland, seeing sick people, land and water and completing much research, was I in utter disbelief. This industry is unsafe. And no government process can make it safe.

You compare the noise of an extraction pump to a field of wind turbines? What about the rest of the extraction process? Compressor stations every 60km (depending on the number of pumps), pressurised turbines, motors and engines going 24/7, trucks carrying contaminated liquids on a road near you and so much more than just a well.

Now let's have a little geology lesson as you suggest. The farmer's water bore is drilled into the nearest to the surface, sweet aquifer, averaging 40-50m depth. Unconventional gas extraction bores down through sweet water, through salt water to a depth of 400 to 1000 metres (then can be bored horizontal up to 13km, then fractured). If a farmer's bore hits salty water the bore hole is sealed. The bore is then relocated to another aquifer. Remember, the unconventional gas bore goes through any aquifers in its path and may crack the rock containing different aquifers. Not to mention the seals breaking down overtime and that fracking shamelessly cracks the strata. At some point contamination is guaranteed. And this is just one small part of the unconventional gas story. But hey, you know all this don't you?

Heather McDiarmid



Respect on both sides

I wish to acknowledge hardworking police officers of the Northern Rivers for doing what at times must be at times a very hard, frustrating and thankless job.

I also wish to acknowledge those brave people who sacrifice their personal and professional time to protect this community against state backed corporate interests such as the CSG industry. These people, as well as risking arrest, forgo the comforts that most of us take for granted on a day to day basis in order to maintain vigilance and dissuade corporations from threatening the land, air and water which we all presently enjoy, and our children will inherit. They do not do this for money but because they know it is the only way they will stop this vandalism. In fact many lose days of work and pay in order to maintain this vigilance.

The police must be very frustrated at having to act as a private security firm for these state-backed corporations, to the deficit of proper police work, which as we know is the investigation and prevention of crime that harms our community.

I respect that police officers have a job to do, however, I would ask them to respect that the protestors are only trying to protect our community from corruption and greed inspired vandalism of our region. If protestors exercise their right of arrest that should be done respectfully, perhaps even with some grateful acknowledgement for the sacrifice they are making.

I would ask also that all fellow CSG protestors treat police officers with respect and do not insult or abuse them for doing their job. The police are members of our community also, so the more we can all appreciate and respect each other, the stronger and more united we will be against those who wish to dictate to us for their own financial gain.

Scott Walters

South Lismore

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