Greens push for CSG ban on Northern Rivers
FURIOUS lobbying by gasfield opponents and negotiations between the Greens, Labor and minor parties is underway to ensure a bill to ban coal seam gas on the Northern Rivers is passed by the New South Wales Upper House next week.
Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham will introduce the amendment to the Petroleum (Onshore) Act to Parliament next Tuesday.
New legislation is usually brought before the Lower House first but in a strategic move the Greens will introduce it first to the Legislative Council where they have a better chance of success.
The ambitious bill would prohibit new prospecting or production of CSG in NSW, limit the expansion of existing production areas in Narrabri and Camden, and allow existing petroleum licences to be cancelled without compensation.
Support from Labor and the balance-of-power Shooters and Fishers and Christian Democrats is essential, but it's understood the Greens are prepared to substantially amend the legislation to ensure its passage.
But they won't budge on the core aim of banning the industry on the Northern Rivers.
Local activists have also booked a room in Parliament House next week to have landholders on hand to talk to MPs in support of the bill.
"Our community deserves protection and have been loud and clear with their demands," CSG Free Northern Rivers spokesman Dean Draper said.
"Now is the time for the government to step up and deliver those promises made before the election by local MPs and the Deputy Premier, Troy Grant."
If it does pass, Ballina MP Tamara Smith will introduce the bill to the Lower House and put huge pressure on The Nationals MPs to expose their position on CSG.
It could even split the party, with publicly anti-CSG MPs like Clarence's Chris Gulaptis crossing the floor.
"We want to get a strong bill passed so we can bring on a vote which tests The Nationals on their commitment to a coal seam gas-free Northern Rivers," Mr Buckingham said.
"Members like Thomas George and Chris Gulaptis will have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk."
"This will be the true test of their resolve."