Barry O’Farrell asked for 10,000 signatures in his community charter. We presented over 20,000 Stop CSG signatures at Parliament House on Tuesday November 22 but apparently this wasn’t enough for him to step outside and accept our petition personally.
Launched in April this year, in response to O’Farrell’s pre-election promise to restore power to the people by allowing communities to trigger debates in parliament if over 10,000 signatures were gathered on a petition, the Stop CSG petition calls on the NSW government to implement an immediate moratorium on all CSG projects until the outcome of a Royal Commission, and a ban on ‘fracking’.
Community groups from around NSW were keen to deliver the petition to the Premier personally, and at just after midday on November 22, nearly 200 representatives from across NSW converged on Parliament to hand it over. There were representatives from many communities affected by CSG including the Illawarra, Gloucester, Burren Junction, Chillingham, Putty Valley, the Pilliga and of course, Sydney.
Despite having first contacted Premier O’Farrell on October 26 with our request to present it to him personally, and regularly since then, he didn’t respond. When contacted again on the morning of November 22, The Premier’s secretary informed us that he had many ‘Parliamentary duties’ to attend to that day and wouldn’t be able to meet us in person: Gareth Ward, MLA for Kiama, was deputised to accept the petition on the Premier’s behalf. Chants of ‘We want Barry’, and ‘Come on Barry, come on, come on!’ erupted from the crowd.
‘Who does this government represent?’ Jess Moore, spokesperson for Stop CSG Illawarra, said on the day. ‘It’s obnoxious, absurd and disrespectful to communities all across NSW that the Premier isn’t taking this issue seriously, and isn’t taking five minutes out of his day right now to come out and meet with us’.
Those gathered expressed their disgust at the Premier’s snub and called on MP’s supportive of the community to come out and show their support. The Greens’ Jamie Parker and Labor’s Ryan Park and John Robertson then walked out of Parliament and joined the action. Parker suggested that Ward submit the petition so the government could take the lead on this debate and state their position clearly. Ward, Parker, Park and Robertson then joined the crowd in chanting ‘coal seam gas, we will stop it. Our communities are not for profit’.
The parliamentary debate is likely to occur in late February 2012.
A huge thanks and congratulations to everyone who signed the petition!