ABC Country Hour - 22.9.2011
Farmers will become more violent, depressed and even suicide as they face the biggest threat ever to their mental health unless there’s a change to current mining policies.
That’s the startling evidence given by a northern NSW farmer and clinical phcyologist to the first public hearing into the NSW Upper House coal seam gas inquiry.
Kyogle farmer and clinical phycologist Wayne Somerville was one of the first. He told the inquiry coal seam gas mining poses more danger to the farming community than fire, flood or drought.
“I think it is perhaps the most profoundly dangerous threat of my 35 years of living up here. What we’re facing here is a possible permanent change in the nature of the land and a change in the nature of country life and I think the result of this will be wide spread emotional distress, social disruption and political turmoil.”
In a startling submission, Mr Somerville said its an extreme radical experiment in environmental and social engineering.
He also said that unless the state’s mining policies are amended, suicide, depression and even violence will result.
“Well essentially we’re exposing the community to a traumatic situation and a threat to their way of life and a threat to their future. It’s hard to think of a more profound threat to farming communities. There will be a natural response to that. At first there will be anxiety and fear as people are aware there is danger, then they will become angry, that will give them the energy to deal with the danger. If their efforts at changing government policy fail, then their anger can only go two ways. It will go inward and they will become depressed or it will go outward and they will express that out into the community.”
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