States unite in CSG battle

Protesters from the Northern Rivers join with Queensland locals at the Kerry blockade.
Protesters from the Northern Rivers join with Queensland locals at the Kerry blockade.

FARMERS and greenies from the Northern Rivers are standing side by side at the blockade against coal seam gas at Kerry, near Beaudesert in Queensland.

Alan Roberts, of Kyogle, said people who were usually at opposite ends of the political spectrum were surprisingly finding common ground when it came to coal seam gas.

"People I've had head-on battles with I now get on with as friends," he laughed.

"At Kerry we've had farmers and greenies and people like Alan Jones involved in the issue. Now he's a person that I strongly disagree with over matters of climate change, but he could not be better on his strength of conviction and his understanding of coal seam gas."

Convoys of protesters from the Northern Rivers have been travelling to the blockade, which was set up by landowners angry at Arrow Energy's plan to conduct exploratory drilling in the area.

Leah Hobbs, of Group Against Gas Kyogle, said she had spent the past four days driving between Kyogle and Kerry.

Ms Hobbs said she believed state borders were no longer relevant when it came to coal seam gas.

"I feel we would cross the border to help our Queensland friends with a flood or a fire and we see coal seam gas as a common threat," she explained. "We are sure the Queenslanders would return the favour in protecting our region as well."

Ms Hobbs said it was her first time at a blockade and she admitted the protest movement against coal seam gas had led to some strange friendships developing in her own community at Kyogle.

"We've had 80-year-old farmers sitting next to 20-year-old environmentalists and you've got the whole gamut of people worried about this," she said.

On Friday, Wanda Halden, of Larnook, was arrested for refusing a police request to move at the blockade.

While the blockade in Queensland is a long way from her home, she said water was the issue that united anti-CSG protesters on the Northern Rivers and that's why so many of them had been willing to travel to Queensland.

"The water connectivity is the issue here - and ensuring that our farmers (Australia-wide) have access to clean, uncontaminated water for food security and to ensure future generations are looked after," she said. "We now know about the dangers of smoking, we now know the dangers of asbestos and now we have a situation with coal seam gas mining and the dangers of water contamination."

Nimbin Environment Centre's Lisa Costello is another Northern Rivers resident who has just returned from the blockade.

She said it was natural choice for her to join the protest in Queensland.

"I think the coal seam gas issue has no borders. I think that if they want to drill for coal seam gas in our region to send up into Queensland then it's our responsibility to bring it to the attention of everybody that it's happening."

What do you think of the blockade in Queensland? Leave a comment below.

Topics:  coal seam gas northern rivers

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