NEWS

Labor promises to declare North Coast CSG free if elected

Northern Star

THE NORTH Coast will be guaranteed “CSG free” if NSW Labor wins next year’s state election.

The news follows a unanimous vote to support a gas ban in the state seats of Lismore, Ballina, Clarence and the Tweed at the party’s state conference on Sunday.

Former Federal Member for Page Janelle Saffin and federal Richmond MP Justine Elliott introduced the motion to the floor.

The declaration will now become formal Labor policy at the March 2015 election.

Tweed Labor candidate Ron Goodman said the move was a win for the region’s tourism and agricultural sectors, arguing employees in those sectors stood to lose jobs if the CSG industry came to the region.

He contrasted the Labor platform with that of the NSW government – which he said was “unashamedly” pro-CSG – quoting Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner’s description of Bentley protesters as “professional bludgers”.

“I’ve visited Bentley… I’ve met the local community members who are passionately against this operation,” Mr Goodman said.

“The National Party tried to treat them as some sort of blow-in radicals who are just shopping for a cause; the reality is they’re people who care desperately about the community they live in – and they don’t want to see it destroyed.”

But one former Labor leading light, turned gas industry lobbyist, was unlikely to share the feelings of those at the conference.

Chairman of oil and gas lobby group APPEA and former Federal Energy Minister Martin Ferguson last week accused the NSW Labor Opposition of being “hell-bent on chasing Green votes in Nimbin and Lismore” at the expense of “the working families of Western Sydney”.

Mr Goodman said he was “hell bent” on “protecting the industries and jobs that we have now” by making sure the reputation of the region wasn’t “damaged” by coal seam gas mining.

Meanwhile, Labor candidate for Lismore Isaac Smith said he would be surprised if the Labor Party listened to a gas lobbyist – even an ex-Labor one.

Instead he pointed to Mr Ferguson’s comments as just grounds for Labor leader John Robertson’s election, promising to ban lobbyists in NSW.

“He (Mr Ferguson) is Mr Gas… I’m glad Sydney’s listening to me and not him,” Cr Smith said.

Mr Ferguson has attacked the NSW Government as “pandering to Alan Jones and activists.”

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