Debate rages over coal seam gas plans

ABC radio - AM - 2.8.2011

The rapidly expanding coal seam gas industry has hit a battlefront as it moves from Queensland into New South Wales, with one group of farmers not having a bar of it.
The group, from Moree in the north-west of the state, have united in an unprecedented campaign denying access to companies seeking to drill on their land.
It comes as a federal senate inquiry moves into the region to investigate the industry’s impact on prime agricultural country.
The country around Moree is prime farming and grazing land.

Third-generation farmer Doug Kuch says landholders had no choice.
“We don’t have any reason why we would want to negotiate with these companies because it’s a lose-lose scenario for us,” he said.
“The Government is not prepared to listen to the problems that are associated with what is going to happen.
“All they’re interested in is if they’re going to get a royalty out of it and they don’t care if there’s no grain belt here in 25 years’ time.”

One of the first in the stand at the Senate Hearings is the Mayor of the Moree Plains council, Katrina Humphries.
She too has taken a hardline stance and put a ban on all exploration on shire property and public roads.

“Why do we have to keep fighting for our existence you know? I am really, really over it,” she said.
“We have this dreadful meddling from governments that have grossly mismanaged the whole economy and I understand they need the mineral resources to balance the books.
“But in 20 years’ time there’s no point in having the books balanced and the people starving, it’s ridiculous.
“Why should our community be under the threat of a legal challenge because they don’t want to let people onto their properties, these are their homes.”

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