Locals may get a CSG vote
LISMORE mayor Jenny Dowell announced yesterday she will seek to hold a poll in conjunction with local government elections in September to gauge local opinion on coal-seam gas.
Cr Dowell made the announcement at a media conference called by North Coast Aboriginal elders and others opposed to the industry.
The media conference coincides with the release of a paper examining the possible environmental impacts of coal-seam gas on the region.
The group plans to have the paper tabled in the NSW Parliament.
Bundjalung elder Patsy Nagas also announced she will call on NSW Aboriginal Land Council chief Geoff Scott to come to Lismore and face local people.
Ms Nagas made the call in response to revelations the NSW Land Council was considering applying for licences to explore for gas in the region.
"I am terribly angry with the situation and I want to deal with it and take some action against it," Ms Nagas said.
"(The Land Council plan) has broken cultural protocol to start with because it is someone else giving approval on someone else's country.
"It is another spiritual country; it is not (Mr Scott's) country and it is up to the people of that area."
In presenting the paper, Doug Ferguson of North Lismore said coal-seam gas does not make economic sense because it could destroy the region's "communal capital".
"We have tailored our lives around the exalted ecology of this region which supplies many people here with their living," Mr Ferguson said.
"Apart from the social cost, apart from the ecological cost, economically (coal-seam gas) does not make sense. (The paper) makes a case for our agricultural industry, our tour- ism industry and all of our sustainable industries that we have created over generations. These and the ecology of the region are our communal capital."
The group called for the North Coast region to be declared coal-seam gas-free.
"I fully support a call for this region to be declared coal-seam gas-free because we are the most biodiverse region in NSW and the third most biodiverse in Australia," Cr Dowell said.
"This is the remnants of the Gondwana rainforest from millions of years ago.
"We have this most wonderful environment; we must take care of it. The risks are not worth taking."