Greens Senator for NSW Lee Rhiannon has accused Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson of being in the pocket of the Coal Seam Gas industry and called on him to visit the farmers' blockade at Gunnedah aimed at blocking Santos from exploring for gas on the Liverpool Plains.
Mr Ferguson's interview on coal seam gas and the Liverpool Plains on Radio National Breakfast is here.
"Minister Martin Ferguson has again downplayed the potential impacts of coal seam gas mining on water and food security and biodiversity in the Gunnedah region, showing his true allegiance rests with the mining industry, not Australia's best interests," Senator Rhiannon said.
"Rather than backing the interests of mining companies the government should be working with the farmers on the Liverpool Plains to protect this rich agricultural land. It's time Labor supported Greens Senator Larissa Waters' bill that protects water from the ravages of coal seam gas mining.
"Mr Ferguson's arguments that Liverpool Plains farmers will benefit from the coal seam gas rush don't wash. Selling out Australia's food security for short term economic gain is bankrupt politics.
"It is unfortunate that the Minister has rubbished the Gunnedah blockade, labelling it 'unacceptable'. He should be listening to farmers' concerns and visiting the site of the action would enable him to do this.
"Farmers will no doubt question Mr Ferguson on why he is willing to sell-out their rich food-producing lands and water resources for the interests of mining giant Santos.
"Independent Tony Windsor provides a good role model for Minister Ferguson in working with local farmers to strike the right balance on mining and water.
"The Minister is wrong to paint Santos' activity in this region of NSW as "a small pilot".
"Santos is sowing deep infrastructure roots for the company that make approval of a long term coal seam gas project a certainty.
"Senator Waters' bill delivers a vehicle for the government to take control of the burgeoning and dangerous coal seam gas industry. All the government needs to do is drive it," Senator Rhiannon said.
Photo courtesy of Saving Our Trees