News National Coal seam gas fracas raises ire on ‘Q&A’

Coal seam gas fracas raises ire on ‘Q&A’

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Australian farmers have voiced their opposition to the controversial mining technique of coal seam gas on a rural-focused edition of Q&A.

The panel on Monday’s episode were asked about the “large scale costs and risks” of the natural gas extraction method, with a farmer in the audience claiming it had adverse affects on human health and the environment.

“What will it take for the major parties to prioritise the nation’s food security and water resources for current and future generations of Australians because CSG is risking the things that are priceless?” New South Wales farmer Sarah Ciesiolka asked to applause from the live audience.

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Known as ‘fracking’, the process of extracting methane from coal seams deep underground is thought by some to waste water, drain and depressurise aquifers, potentially contaminate groundwater, cause erosion and increase salt levels in the soil, thus killing crops.

The mining technique has been a major issue in NSW in recent years, with the state Coalition government introducing a temporary ban on coal mining licenses under pressure from voters.

ABC host Tony Jones asked the audience to raise their hands if the issue would change the way they intended to vote in the upcoming NSW state election.

Around 7,000 people attend an anti-CSG (coal seam gas) rally in Lismore, northern New South Wales, on May 12, 2012.
An anti-CSG rally in New South Wales in 2012.

At least half of the live viewers appeared to raise their hands.

Despite this, neither the Labor or Nationals Party representatives were openly critical of the mining method, putting them at odds with their rural-based panellists.

Nationals Senator Fiona Nash said there was a need to strike a balance between farmers’ concerns and the need for gas supplies.

“It’s not as simple just to say an either or,” Ms Nash said.

Country singer Troy Cassar-Daley, cattle farmer Rob Cook and fruit farmer Robyn Clubb all opposed CSG.

“I just find it staggering that there is just not common sense applied to this and there is not somebody saying this is not acceptable, this should not go ahead,” Ms Clubb, who is Treasurer of the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW.

Mr Cassar-Daley said he would “chain myself to the bloody gate” if a mining company attempted to mine near his home.

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