Lynette Eggins, a Clarence Valley resident, emailed the letter below to Tony Abbott, the Australian Prime Minister on 5 November.
Dear Prime Minister Abbott
I was pleased to hear that you have taken the time to meet with Debbie Orr from Tara in Queensland concerning the impact the gas mining invasion in Queensland has had on her family and community. It is with disgust and disbelief that we read and hear about the treatment of our fellow Australians.
As I'm sure you are aware, gas mining companies propose to invade the Northern Rivers of NSW, an area of scenic beauty and farm land, an area that we live in for the peace, tranquility and natural richness it has to offer to all Australians and overseas visitors.
It is unacceptable to us that we become like Ms Orr and the many other similarly affected residents of Queensland. The Northern Rivers is very densely populated, unlike much of the gasfield areas of our northern neighbour state. If the industry goes ahead, how does your government propose to deal with the health and environmental impacts of such an invasive industry on our close communities?
The introduction of the 2km exclusion zone is quite frankly ludicrous. How can it be that some residents of our country are being offered protection and yet others will become collateral damage? How can the Government openly discriminate against its own constituents?
I am sure government bureaucrats have no idea of the impacts such an industry would have on the Northern Rivers. For example: we often have severe rain events. This alone is enough to create an environmental disaster. With the massive maze of creeks and river systems running off the mountains the majority of the country is underwater at these times. What will happen with the chemicals, waste water and drilling fluids when it flows away with the flood water? Will we at other times, have the waste water sprayed on our roads and crops and injected into our water supply and rivers as is happening in Queensland?
The largest industry we have is tourism - who wants to come and look at gasfields? Can you imagine the impact such a toxic industry will have on tourism and our many sustainable industries such as the fisheries and farming?
Metgasco, one of the gas mining companies with a PEL over our area, has breached safety and environmental regulations numerous times, and they are only in the exploration stage. How can they possibly manage a gas field safely ?
We do not want to live in an industrialised landscape; we do not need the gas and the government knows it (there is enough gas in Bass Strait to serve Australia for millennia - BHP have stated this)
We are an educated population; we have done our research; we know the majority of the gas is for export and we know the long term toxic affects of the gas industry. Please don't treat us as fools.
We have been surveying our residents door to door, neighbour to neighbour, and an overwhelming majority of people do not want to live in gasfields. It is time for the Government to listen to its people – mining companies have no social licence to operate in the Northern Rivers, or elsewhere in NSW for that matter.
The people of the Northern Rivers will not sit back quietly and watch our land, water, health and sustainable industries be impacted by this invasive toxic industry.
Mr Abbott, will you be remembered as the Prime Minister who listened to and stood up for his people? Or the Prime Minister who allowed mining companies and government bureaucracy to force a toxic invasive industry on his constituents? The power is in your hands Mr Abbott.
I would be pleased if you would supply answers to my questions at your earliest possible convenience.
Lynette Eggins, mother, grandmother, business woman and resident of Australia, the lucky country - or is it?