Elly Bird, eAdministration and Events Coordinator at Lock the Gate Alliance. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
Elly Bird, eAdministration and Events Coordinator at Lock the Gate Alliance. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star Marc Stapelberg

ACTIVISTS: Politicians are 'mushrooms' on CSG intentions

Update: TODAY 11am: Gasfield Free Northern Rivers activists, outraged that the NSW government were caught 'accidentally'  spruiking CSG on the Northern Rivers to mining companies overseas, have likened the government to 'mushrooms'.

Although Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy was adamant the CD containing maps and documents spruiking the CSG potential of the documented Northern Rivers was a regrettable mistake, and the government was committed to keeping the Northern Rivers CSG-free.

Elly Bird regional coordinator for Gasfield Free Northern Rivers, said ,"The Nationals are either lying to us or they are complete mushrooms, kept completely in the dark as to the government's true intentions.  

"First we see references to CSG in the Draft North Coast Regional Plan and now this news that the Department of Trade is still promoting our region as open for business for CSG " said 

"It's absolutely outrageous that this government is acting one way and speaking another way. Our National Party MPs are falling all over themselves promising that we are protected when it is becoming more and more obvious that the truth is the complete opposite, " she said

"Our community will not stand for it. What sort of fools do they take the people of the Northern Rivers to be? It's obvious that the National Party cannot be trusted to tell us the truth.  


Update, 5pm: FEDERAL Member for Page Kevin Hogan has leapt to the defence of his state Nationals counterparts, saying bungling Sydney bureaucrats needed to "keep up" with the State Government's gasfield free policy and he was "very proud" of his colleagues of their action on CSG.

"I think the man and woman on the street in our community know that CSG is dead and buried," Mr Hogan said.

"I think the government has shown the commitment to that with the buyback of the licences, obviously this is just bureaucrats who need to keep up.

"They're obviously sitting in their little office in Sydney completely oblivious to the fact that not only the government but this community has said this industry is not suitable for this region.

"I'd certainly be having some stern words, I would certainly be chatting to the head of the department and those staff and saying you need to keep up."

"The state government policy in this region is very clear, they just spent $25 million buying back all the licences and saying CSG isn't relevant to this region."

But Federal Greens candidate for the neighbouring seat of Richmond Dawn Walker has taken full advantage of the bungle, accusing the NSW Government of "double crossing" the people of the Northern Rivers.

She noted the CD-ROM in question, XplorPak 2016, was presented at a convention of 20,000 mining investors in early March in Toronto, Canada.

"If the government was genuine about protecting the Northern Rivers, then why was it included in this international investment package?" Ms Walker said in a statement.

"This revelation that coal seam gas is still on the government's agenda will put CSG front and centre in this federal election campaign."

But Mr Hogan wasn't fazed by the fear-mongering, saying some people would try to "beat this issue up" for political purposes.

He said he was "very proud" of his state colleagues about how they dealt with the CSG issue, as well as the community who successfully "who led the charge" against gasfields.

"I think this will be something that will be forgotten very quickly because it's not changing government policy."

Update, 4PM: CLARENCE MP Chris Gulaptis has labelled the accidental spruiking of the Northern Rivers as a potential gasfield as an unfortunate "stuff up" which "reopens old wounds".

It's understood government MPs are furious over the bungle in which bureaucrats prepared scientifically accurate - yet politically stupid - materials about coal seam gas and uranium reserves in NSW to be sent to international investors.

A spokesman from Anthony Robert's office conceded it was an "own goal" by the government.

Mr Gulaptis, who spoke to the Northern Star shortly after Parliamentary question time, said the promotional material "was not in line with government policy". 

"It was regrettable, unfortunate and a pain in the butt to be quite honest because it just reopens old wounds after the North Coast National fought very hard to ensure the North Coast was made gasfield free," he said.

"It's disappointing, but a stuff up is a stuff up and it's great to see quick response... the government is not debating this issue."

"The long and short of it there will not be any further CSG exploration on the Northern Rivers.

Minister for Resources Anthony Roberts has also issued a mea culpa, confirming for what must be the upteenth time that "the NSW Government has no intention of any further petroleum or gas exploration in the Northern Rivers, in fact we bought-back all the petroleum exploration licences in the area- all of which were issued by the former Labor Government". 

"The Government is also introducing a new Strategic Release Framework for coal and petroleum. This will ensure a potential area will only be released for exploration following an assessment of environmental, social and economic factors, with community consultation. This is in conjunction with the government's independent planning assessment framework for any potential production.

"The Government remains on track to have the Strategic Release Framework, with its advisory body and independent chair, in place by the mid 2016."

Update 2PM: A statement from Anthony Roberts office indicates that the XplorPak was regrettable because it gave international investors the 'wrong impression' about Northern Rivers CSG gas reserves, which he said would not be released for exploration.

"The NSW Division of Resources and Energy is fully aware that the NSW Government policy is that there will be no further petroleum or gas exploration or production in the Northern Rivers region of NSW.

"Promotional materials produced by the Division and used at various investor conferences does acknowledge where gas finds and mineral deposits have been identified across the state.

"It is with regret that we acknowledge that these materials did not make clear that while gas resources may have been identified in these areas, they will not be released for any exploration or production activities in the Northern Rivers.

The same promotional material also highlighted NSW's policies and potential with respect to Uranium. The materials do set out that whilst the ban was lifted from exploring for uranium in NSW, it remains a declared mineral and the ban on mining Uranium in NSW remains.

We  acknowledges and accepts that our materials may have given the impression that exploring for Uranium in NSW is a current opportunity for investors. We acknowledge that this is not in line with the Government's resources agenda and regret that this information has been shared in this way.


These department promotional materials have been withdrawn. New processes to ensure that any future promotional materials align with Government policies are being implemented.


UPDATE, 12.15pm: IT APPEARS Energy and Resources Minister Anthony Roberts is continuing to push for coal seam gas in the Northern Rivers and elsewhere, despite the public commitments made by the government about the Northern Rivers being "CSG Free". 

The Greens have obtained the CD prepared by the Department  of Industry Resources and Energy's Geological Survey team, XplorPak 2016, formerly called the annual Explorers Directory.

The package provides information on mineral, geothermal, coal and petroleum exploration and production in NSW, with links and data to help prospective foreign explorers and stakeholders who gathered together for the March PDAC conference in Canada.

The XplorPak 2016 promotes coal seam gas resources in the Clarence-Morton Basin (situated in the Northern Rivers) as having"very good potential" and there being "potential for commercial opportunities".

It included a map of the Richmond electorate as well as a geological survey of the Clarence-Moreton Basin titled 'CSG potential'.

XplorPak 2016 - showcasing NSW to international investors
XplorPak 2016 - showcasing NSW to international investors

CSG in the Riverina?

In addition: XplorPak 2016 notes that the potential for coal seam gas is currently being evaluated in the Oaklands Basin, near Griffith and Albury and the Murray Basin, from Griffith to Mildura.

Greens candidate for Richmond Dawn Walker was quick to pick up on the government's backflip, producing the following video.


Uranium in the New England

The pack also notes the potential for uranium in the New England area.

Government questioned

This comes after the potential for CSG was included in the Draft North Coast Regional Plan. 

Anthony Roberts, NSW Minister of Industry, Resources and Energy has said that new CSG licence areas would be announced mid-2016.

However, according The Greens Jeremy Buckingham, Mr Roberts refused to state in a written reply to Buckingham, in which geographic areas these licences would be allowed. 


ORIGINAL: THE GREENS have uncovered documents which reveal the Northern Rivers is being spruiked to overseas investors as having 'very good potential' for coal seam gas.

This morning The Sydney Morning Herald broke the news that the state government has been selling northern NSW to foreign mining investors as having "very good potential" for coal-seam-gas exploration, while local voters were told the practice had been stopped, documents show.

NSW is also being spruiked as a "greenfields opportunity" with "known potential" for uranium exploration, even in the farming region of New England.

The Sydney Morning Herald published that marketing material was prepared by NSW Trade and Investment bureaucrats and presented in March to a Toronto conference of more than 20,000 mining investors from more than 100 countries.

"The Clarence-Morton basin has very good petroleum potential," investors were told of a 16,000 square kilometre region in the state's Northern Rivers. "Almost all wells drilled' have yielded gas and/or oil".

The news comes just months after NSW National MPs declared the Northern Rivers gasfield free and the state government spent $25 million buying out Metgasco's license to explore the region.

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