Show society president John Gibson.
Show society president John Gibson.

Show says 'no' to CSG money

THE North Coast National has decided not to accept any sponsorship money from coal seam gas companies for this year's show.

Show society president John Gibson said it had been a difficult decision for the management committee to make, but thought it was in line with the sentiment being expressed by the community.

"In light of the number of people concerned about CSG, we thought until the government makes a decision, it was better for the show (not to accept the sponsorship money). We didn't want to get caught up in a debate about whether the show supports it (CSG) or not," he said.

Mr Gibson said that last year Metgasco had contributed $15,000 in sponsorship towards the North Coast National and had asked for a sponsorship prospectus again this year.

"It will be a big loss to us... To my knowledge it has never happened before and certainly not in the last 25 years. The North Coast National has never been put in this position before. All I can hope is that the community appreciates what we have done and supports the show. We really need the support of the community now to make this viable."

Mr Gibson said he was aware that Woodford Folk Festival had received a lot of negative feedback from regular festival goers for a sponsorship deal they had done with mining company Santos.

"We don't want to alienate too many people and don't want protests at show... This kind of thing can't keep dividing the community."

Mr Gibson said the decision had not been affected by other sponsors, including NORCO, who have been quite vocal in their opposition to the CSG industry.

"At no stage did any sponsor say they wouldn't support the show and NORCO confirmed their sponsorship for 2012 before we made this decision," he said.

Mr Gibson added that Metgasco or any of the anti-CSG groups would be welcome to have a stall at the show.

Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson said they were disappointed by the decision and highlighted several examples where CSG companies were sponsors of major sporting events.

Spokesperson for the CSG Free Northern Rivers group, Gordon Fraser Quick, welcomed the show society's announcement.

"They have made a very brave, courageous and the right decision. It shows foresight and genuine community spirit."

Mr Fraser-Quick said he and other members of the group had met with the show society's finance committee and management committee.

"We were concerned the show was being used by CSG companies to buy social licence... We agreed on our passion for the show and the community's desire to see it move forward."

Lismore Lantern Parade director Jyllie Jackson said they have also knocked back money from a CSG producer.

She said she was contacted by a PR company on behalf of energy company AGL, who wanted to sponsor the lantern parade "in a fairly major way".

"I said 'you must be joking, do you know what's going on in this area?' There was no way I could contemplate it," she said.

"But it was a really hard decision. We have an uncertain financial future and the move (to a different venue) this year put us under further financial strain. But there was no question we could possibly accept any money from a CSG company... If we were in Western Australia, every arts event is sponsored by mining companies. It's frustrating when that's the only money around."

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