Locals on frontline at CSG protest

Local activists protesting in Kerry.
Local activists protesting in Kerry.

When Wanda Halden from Rock Valley GAS Rangers was arrested in Kerry last week at an anti-CSG protest she said what really surprised her was how worried the police officers were about CSG mining in south-east Queensland.

"They were all polite, friendly and professional... and when I started talking to them back at the station about CSG and contamination of aquifers they were really very concerned. But they still charged me with contravening a police order."

Wanda was one of 12 protestors arrested after failing to comply with a move-on order on a property where Arrow Energy planned to begin drilling operations. They will appear in Beaudesert Magistrates Court on February 1.

The protest in Kerry has been joined by convoys of Northern Rivers residents as well as high-profile identifies such as Steve Irwin's father Bob and politician Bob Katter, who addressed activists on Tuesday and spruiked his new political party. While Katter's Australian Party does not have a policy against CSG mining, it promotes measures such as banning fracking within 3km of any aquifer and allowing landowners to refuse mining companies property access.

"It was all very political… but his words were strong. I think his stance is getting stronger and stronger as he feels the growing swell (against CSG)," Leah Hobbs from Kyogle Group Against Gas said after hearing him speak.

"The media coverage was good and the more people who see CSG on their TV screens the more the dangers of it will become apparent. It's education - plugging away into people's homes. But at the end of the day, locking the gate and making sure those drills don't do any damage is the number one priority."

Wanda said protestors were demanding Arrow Energy conduct independent groundwater studies before drilling began to ensure the company could be held responsible should any contamination occur. They also called for a study into aquifer connectivity below the Scenic Rim by a mutually-agreed party.

Wanda is now urging people to attend a 'symbolic blockade' this Saturday, January 21, at Rock Valley Hall to hear about the Kerry protest and discuss how to stage direct action. She dubbed it "necessary training".

"It's very important Lismore residents attend… we can all learn from the Kerry blockade. We have people up there who have pledged to help us down here and have said they are only a phone call away if we need support," Wanda said. "Because the Environment Protection Act is so grossly inadequate we are being forced to blockade to preserve our natural resources… it's vital we secure our water supply for food production into the future.

"We are being forced to do what the law should be doing and we must consider acts of civil disobedience. While the mining company interests are protected the people have to band together."

The symbolic blockade will begin at 10am with a variety of speakers including protestors from the Kerry blockade, an environmental scientist, local farmers and others. People are urged to bring anti-CSG placards and banners, children, a big smile, water and a chair.

For more information phone Wanda on 0427 302 725 or email rockvalleygas

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