Wellington farmers rallied in Sydney yesterday demanding the NSW government follow through on an election promise to protect land and water resources from mining exploration.
They boarded a bus, organised by the NSW Farmers Association, in the early hours of the morning joining different groups showing support to the Protect our Land and Water rally against the state government’s draft strategic regional land use policy.
“We’re not against mining, but we want to slow down the process,” local farmer Peter Carter said.
“Suddenly there’s a mining tax and people are mining everything.”
Mr Carter said that the government was disregarding the future of the state by drafting a plan that did not ban mining and exploration proposals in areas set aside as prime agricultural land.
“There’s not much point in dealing with the government if they say one thing and do another,” Mr Carter said.
At least 16 groups have joined the rally, including the Country Women’s Association (CWA), National Conservation Australia and the Lock the Gate Alliance.
NSW Farmers’ Association president Fiona Simson voiced her dissatisfaction with the outcome of the negotiations as Planning minister Brad Hazzard told ABC radio the NSW Farmers were becoming “almost irrelevant to the process”.
“Protecting our land and water is an issue which affects everyone in NSW,” Ms Simson said.
“The seriousness of this issue is reflected in the diverse backgrounds of those prepared to march shoulder to shoulder.”
Mr Carter said that too little was known about CSG and that damage to soil and aquifers could be long lasting.
He feels that the rights of the public need to be considered.
“It is universal that if the
government takes something away then whichever government, it is loathe to give it back,” he said.
“But if we don’t win today, we will be back again and again.”