Web_CSGEvery three years we have the opportunity to let our elected political representatives know what the important issues are for us at an election. Yet many of us treat our political affiliation like barracking for a football team where unquestioning loyalty is seen as a good thing.

Many areas of Gippsland have now been surveyed and the results show a resounding majority of people do not want unconventional gas drilling in their areas, yet some of our Coalition parliamentarians claim to have been to Queensland and found no evidence of ill–effects from the coal seam gas (CSG) mining operations there. This is despite the Condamine River in a CSG area bubbling up gas for over a year now, cattle refusing to drink affected bore water, frogs disappearing and people being able to light their bore water in various places; people at Tara reporting sickness that is related to hydrocarbon poisoning (reported in the Women’s Day magazine February 4, 2013) and elevated levels of methane and radioactive radon in areas where CSG production is taking place.

As well there have been massive anti-CSG protests in many places in NSW, which resulted in laws being changed to slow the advance of the drillers. I am certain that if the Liberal and National parties did not derive so much of their campaign funding from mining and petroleum interests, then they may have been able to find some of the above pollution and identify these community concerns. In the coming election, both Darren Chester and Russell Broadbent are expected to experience an increase in their electoral margins due to the nationwide swing against Labor and will interpret this as a mandate to justify further support for coal seam gas operations. What good will this do to farming communities when an Abbott-led government does away with ‘green tape’ to turbo charge the roll out of CSG across the countryside.

The mad rush to export natural gas will double gas prices for all Australians as we begin paying world parity prices forcing the Australian dollar to rise again, inducing another round of grief similar to 2011-12 which put the squeeze on all exporters, but was especially severe on the dairy industry. Putting the Coalition parties first, second or even third on the ballot with our preferential system will ensure that Gippsland is indeed converted to Gasland. The Greens and most of the independents oppose CSG on farming country, but a vote for the Liberal or National parties is a vote for CSG.

Dan Caffrey, Latrobe Valley Sustainability Group.