A massive community campaign in northern NSW and Queensland is cutting across old dividing lines and uniting farmers with environmental activists in the fight against Coal Seam Gas (CSG) extraction. The campaign has already has had a major impact and pushed some plans for new CSG operations back.
Protests at Bentley in NSW, including a camp and blockade that lasted 4 months, ended in Metgasco’s licence for gas drilling being suspended. Recently anti-CSG protesters also formed Australia’s longest protest with hundreds of groups covering a length of 2500 kilometres along highways. The aim was to pressure the newly elected Baird government to cancel unconventional gas mining licences across the state.
The fact that the Nationals lost the northern NSW seat of Ballina to the Greens, and also nearly lost Lismore, shows how community campaigns can move into the political sphere. While the Greens have provided an outlet for people’s anger at CSG for now, a much bolder political movement will be required to put an end to this dirty practice.
Profit driven capitalism is what drives the CSG industry and only a political and social movement that embraces anti-capitalist ideas will be able to win sustainable alternatives to CSG.
By Gary Duffy