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NSW Parliament pays tribute to George Bender

TOO CLOSE: Hopeland farmer George Bender stands 200m from his life-long family home. He said that was too close for any gas company activity. Photo Emma Heron / Chinchilla News
TOO CLOSE: Hopeland farmer George Bender stands 200m from his life-long family home. He said that was too close for any gas company activity. Photo Emma Heron / Chinchilla News Emma Heron

THE story of Chinchilla farmer George Bender's death after a decade-long fight against mining companies has earned him a touching tribute in the NSW Parliament.

Mr Bender's daughter Helen appeared on ABC's Q&A last week to speak of the tragic events that led to her father's suicide.

"One of the last things my father said: 'No one is listening, why are you wasting my time'?" she said.

Upper House Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham called on parliament to officially recognise the family's statement that Mr Bender "died from a broken heart, at witnessing first-hand the tragedy unfolding around him".

"The tragedy is, in fighting for his country, his struggles are now his legacy, but it is the determination of those who have known and loved George Bender that his sacrifice not be forgotten," the statement continued.

Mr Buckingham tried to package the condolence message with a motion calling on the government to give landholders the right to refuse CSG mining and exploration on their land.

Unsurprisingly, the government would not support it until the call for the right to refuse access was removed.

"Some people may be critical of me for wanting to debate this motion and they may say that I am seeking to politicise this tragic incident," Mr Buckingham said.

MORE: Premier slammed for refusing to meet with farmer's widow

"The Bender family does not want Mr Bender's legacy to be forgotten and has asked the parliament to deal with this matter.

"The Bender family should not have had to deal with such a tragedy.

"George Bender should still be alive, farming and passing on his knowledge to his sons."

Roads Minister Duncan Gay said the motion had his full support, once the reference to politics was removed.

"It does not matter to me whether it was Mr Bender or one of my cousins who took their life during the recent economic crisis and drought," he said.

"They all should be acknowledged properly.

"The life of farmers is not easy, taking into account economic pressures and the principles that farmers believe in, and families feel their loss enormously."

For information and support in Australia, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, Mensline on 1300 789 978 or Beyondblue on 1300 224 636.

Topics:  chinchilla coal seam gas csg farming george bender mental health mining nswpol nsw politics qanda qldpol queensland


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