Saffin calls on Nationals to stand up to O’Farrell on CSG

THE politics of the CSG debate heated up this week Page MP Janelle Saffin revealing she had written to North Coast Nationals Don Page, Thomas George and Chris Gulaptis calling on them to "influence Premier Barry O'Farrell and Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner to bring a halt to CSG activity until bioregional assessments are completed."

She has also written to local health service director Chris Crawford "to take an active role in public health assessments of the chemicals used in CSG mining".

But to do date the response from all four men has been a deafening silence.

Ms Saffin said the Nationals' credibility on the issue was "up in smoke".

But her opponent at the next federal election, Nationals' candidate Kevin Hogan came out and said this week he "cannot support the CSG industry here on the North Coast while there are still so many environmental and social question marks" and indicated he would cross the floor to support the will of his electorate.

Ms Saffin responded by saying Mr Hogan's conversion to the cause was politically motivated.

"For someone who claims to have had concerns for two years, he was very quiet on the issue the whole time that I was speaking out.

"I believe that we should look further at whether the limited federal powers could be strengthened given the state's environmental vandalism as they continue to roll out CSG mining and grant licences."


The Nationals respond:

Given the huge amount of space you have given to the anti-CSG people it would be appreciated if our comments could be quoted in full.

We did receive a letter from Janelle Saffin expressing her views on CSG.  She said she was happy to meet but did not propose a place, date or time.

We are more than happy to meet with her although we do not share her most recent position on CSG.  Indeed, we believe her tactics were always part of a stunt not based on science but about her re-election campaign.

Prior to the Liberals & Nationals coming into office State Labor (Ms Saffin's party) had granted CSG licences to over 24 per cent of the State, with virtually no regulations or protections.

The Liberals & Nationals Government placed a stay on the granting and renewal of any new licences as we worked to implement strict new controls regulating the industry.

A package of 27 stringent controls are now in place, making the CSG industry in NSW the most heavily regulated of anywhere in Australia.  Properly regulated CSG together with renewables will form part of an integrated energy policy for NSW into the future.

Importantly, two Codes of Practice covering both exploration and mining, together with 25 other safeguards, protect ground water, surface water and the environment generally.  Those Codes of Practice have been endorsed by the Chief Scientist, Dr Mary O'Kane and an independent scientific committee.

The NSW Government in the meantime has banned the use of all BTEX chemicals and has created 40 on the ground staff to ensure the Codes of Practice are followed.

We put our faith in scientific-based processes, not the words of a backbencher in a dying Federal Government.  This is the same Federal Government that 2 days ago approved CSG mining at Gloucester.


Don Page MP, Member for Ballina and

Thomas George MP, Member for Lismore

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