Leading up the State election, Manly became the target for ‘No Coal Seam Gas’ campaigns with the focus squarely on our local member, and Premier, Mike Baird.
The campaign to stop energy companies trashing our land and water runs on front line resistance in the bush, backed up by strong city support.
In Manly we were responsible for a lot of that support.
Locals filled St Matthews Church for a coal seam gas rally, and packed a screening of the anti-CSG film Frackman. And 250 people volunteered to knock on doors for the recent Giant Community Survey, which reached 8,000 Manly households.
The results, which were delivered to Mr Baird the following week, were overwhelming. Over 95% of respondents said they were worried about our farmland, forest and water and wanted the government to do more to protect them from fracking.
Shortly afterwards Mr Baird cancelled three of the four CSG licences covering Sydney's water catchment area.
Fierce community opposition to fracking in last month's state election was responsible for the demolition of the National's vote in northern NSW, after decades in power. It propelled the Greens to victory in two inner city seats, and produced strong results for green candidates in Manly and throughout the Northern Beaches.
Pablo Brait, Community Organiser of the Nature Conservation Council of NSW who co-ordinated the campaign said Manly people made a huge contribution to the anti-CSG fight, but the battle isn't over.
The largest of the CSG exploration license in our water catchment area is still there. As well a commercial CSG field at Camden, virtually a Sydney suburb, is having devastating effects on the houses nearby. Towns like Gloucester and Bulga in the Hunter Valley and beautiful Leard State Forest in north west NSW are all under threat.
A volunteer group has now been set up in Manly as has been done in many other suburbs of Sydney, to keep the pressure on to have all exploration licences cancelled in NSW.
Good For Manly, joins the Manly community in calling for a total ban on fracking or coal mining in water catchments, productive farmland and native conservation areas.
“Seeing the movie Frackman was a real eye-opener for me. It really brought home the unacceptable dangers CSG mining has on our water and environment. We are already seeing evidence in Queensland and NSW just how harmful this process is, and the harm it does to our environment,” said Good For Manly Councillor, Candy Bingham.
“It really is an issue that should not be political. Fracking must be stopped in NSW”, she said.
"Councils throughout NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria have all put their opposition to fracking on the record," Cr Candy Bingham said.
"It's disappointing that Manly Council has not done so. Particularly as there's no doubt about what Manly residents want."
Want to know more? You may find these links interesting:
1. State subsidies and royalties: http://www.tai.org.au/content/mining-age-entitlement
The TAI report at the link above looks at state-based (there’s also federal government) subsidies to the mining sector. It also talks about royalties. See page ten of the report.
The headline figures are:
· In 2013-14 NSW got $1.5 billion in royalties from mining, which is only 2% of state revenue. That is, mining is not as important to the NSW economy is the mining industry says it is.
· NSW spent $136 million in subsidies for this same sector that financial year.
2. Narrabri CSG project: http://ieefa.org/briefing-note-narrabri/
This briefing note looks at the likelihood of the Santos project in the Pilliga having any impact on NSW gas prices (they conclude it won’t).
3. Coal seam gas economics: http://www.tai.org.au/content/fracking-future
Twelve months ago The Australia Institute did an excellent review of the economics of coal seam gas. It looks at gas prices, economic activity and jobs. See link.
4. Upper house gas inquiry is here: http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/gasinquiry
Candy Bingham, Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.