The Lock the Gate campaign is starting to make waves in the South West with communities who are concerned about gas exploration about to take place in the region.
THE Lock the Gate campaign has started to create waves in the South West with people who want to make their communities gas field free.
Lock the Gate is an Australia-wide campaign which started as a grassroots movementin the Eastern states in response to the fast expansion of coal and coal seam gas mining in farming areas.
A declaration was made by farmers that they would lock their gates to these industries to stop them from acquiring their land orcarrying out mining activity on their properties.
The campaign now has over 40,000 supporters and 250 local groups throughout Australia who want their communities to be free of pollution caused by mining.
A Lock the Gate meeting was held at the Capel Golf Club last Wednesday in response to people who are concerned about gas exploration which is set to take place throughout the South West.
At the meeting in Stratham, 80 people attended including Collie Preston MP Mick Murray and Greens member Jill Reading who said they do not want the development of gas fields in the South West.
Mr Murray said he thought it wasimportant landholders, farmersand others be given the opportunity to have a say who could access their land, especially if that land access impactedon their livelihood through the potential contamination of groundwater.
“The fragility and make-up of the substructure around the Yaragadee needs to be highlighted as part of this debate, considering its fundamental importance to local farming and food production, and of course to our unique natural bush environment,” he said.
“Ever since these matters came to the fore on the east coast some years ago I have been mindful of the rights of WA landholders being diluted or impinged upon in this manner.”
Mr Murray said he was concerned about thepotential impacts of the anti-protestlaws on farmers’ and others’ democratic right to protest.
He said the legislation targetedanyone who createda physical barrier between ‘lawful’ activities, so there was a direct implication for farmers who lock the gate in peaceful opposition to mining or petroleum companies.
“There is such a diverse array of groups opposing these laws, including the WA Farmers Federation, a wide collection of conservation groups, and even the UN.”
Lock the gate WA coordinator Boudicca Cerese said thecampaign wasaboutthe community saying theydo not want this industry here andwant it free from unsafe mining and water pollution.
“What we have found throughout Australia was governments and industry were quick to say it was only conventional gas and there was unconventional gas there,” she said.
“The government and industry are looking for a return and if it is unconventional gas they will do anything they can to get it out, which means the gas fields will be bigger.”
Ms Cerese said thecampaign was taking off in WA and it would become an important issue in the lead up to the state election.
“We have seen this issue on the east coast become a vote changer with traditional National voters voting differently because their National Party did not take action to help farmers veto the gas companies,” she said.
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