Coalition ‘broke a promise'

THE LIBERAL National Party coalition has broken its election promise to protect rural communities from coal seam gas extraction, according to the NSW Farmers Federation which is not going to let them forget it.

To make their case, a protest called the Protect our Land and Water Rally has been organised to march to Parliament House in Sydney next Tuesday.

"The government has not delivered on its pre-election promise to protect agricultural land and water," Michael Burt, regional manager for the NSW Farmers Federation said.

The government's Strategic Regional Land Use Policy does not deliver "upfront planning protection that clearly sets out where CSG extraction can and cannot take place," he said.

"In effect farming and rural communities have been denied investment certainty. If farmers do not know when and where CSG extraction can take place, they are effectively powerless to plan and manage the future of their farms and their livelihoods," he said.

"The Farmers Federation isn't a political organisation and had no problem going up against traditional ally, the National Party," he added.

"The Farmers Federation would rally against any group trying to disadvantage farmers in regional communities," Mr Burt said.

In the past 10 years, there had been an unprecedented escalation of mining and coal seam gas activity across the state, he said.

State MP for the Clarence Chris Gulaptis said the government had only released draft proposals covering land and water protection that were still open to public comment and to second guess the government's final policy was premature.

"When we got into power there was nothing, so we are definitely improving things. Our priorities are water security and food security," he said.

The rally in Sydney would not be limited to farmers and would include anyone who had a concern with CSG extraction. Thousands are expected, Mr Burt said.

The Country Women's Association, Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association and Hunter Valley Wine Industry Association are just some of the organisations that have pledged to support the rally.

The Clarence Environment Centre's John Edwards is planning to go.

"CSG companies don't guarantee groundwater will not be polluted," he said.

Seanine Cooper, spokeswoman for Clarence Valley Against Coal Seam Gas Mining said mining companies had often tried to portray the opposition to CSG, as troublesome greens

But it was clear from this protest that there was widespread concern about the new industry, she said.

People wishing to travel on Farmers Federation buses should contact their local representative.



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