The community has spoken. Stop CSG!
… This was the message on the giant banner that dropped from the Illawarra’s escarpment as 3,000 people participated in the Bridge Walk to Stop Coal Seam Gas on Sunday October 16 – a truly huge turn out for the relatively remote assembly point in Coalcliff!
What a day!
The walk was part of a day of nationally co-ordinated actions to stop coal seam gas, organised by the Lock The Gate Alliance. Here in the Illawarra, train services were bursting at the seams as CityRail put on several extra services in both directions to accommodate the massive crowd.
As start time approached, people formed up in Paterson Road, Coalcliff – usually a quiet, sleepy street with spectacular views of the escarpment and ocean. But on this day it was a hive of activity; most houses proudly displaying a Stop CSG sign in their front yard.
Several houses held garage sales to make the most of the crowd; one house held a ‘Slushees to Stop CSG’ stall – staffed by kids – and donated 10% of their takings to Stop CSG Illawarra. Hundreds of people browsed the garage sales and stalls, stocking up on Stop CSG merchandise for the walk including placards, tshirts and stickers. Meanwhile, the crowd was entertained by The Wilderness Society’s ‘Ninja Samba’ band and their funky beats.
Up to 60 marshals co-ordinated the crowds from the assembly point through to Paterson Road, via a beautiful little walking track. Thousands descended from the train station as people heeded calls to leave their cars at home.
Once it was confirmed that our road blocks at Bald Hill and Scarborough were in place the crowd surged into Lawrence Hargrave Drive behind the lead banner. The police were extremely helpful in facilitating the road blocks and encouraging CityRail to put on the extra services (thanks guys). The walk snaked around the iconic road’s scenic corners, hugging the escarpment, and the huge banner drop drew a roar of excited and inspired cheers.
As the walk approached Clifton it was met by hundreds of people who had gathered there already; many who had been stopped at the Scarborough road block and decided to park their car and join in the action. Stop CSG’s MC Rob Edwards welcomed the crowd and acknowledged the traditional owners of the land. Then Stop CSG’s spokesperson, Jess Moore outlined the community’s concerns about CSG and reminded the NSW government of our demands: an immediate moratorium on CSG mining until the outcomes of a Royal Commission are made public, and a ban on ‘fracking’.
Big news on the petition!
After Jess’s speech, Rob announced that the petition to the NSW government had surpassed 10,000 signatures meaning we can organise a direct hand over to Premier O’Farrell for a debate in parliament. Major campaign milestone achieved!
Wollongong’s recently elected Lord Mayor, Gordon Bradbery, spoke next, asking all Wollongong City councilors present to join him on stage. He was joined by the Greens’ George Takacs, Independents Greg Petty and Vicki Curran and Liberals Leigh Colacino and Bede Crasnich. The Greens’ Jill Merrin also participated in the walk but had to leave before Gordon’s speech. Gordon read out a resolution from the last council meeting (voted for unanimously by councilors) that urged the NSW government to rule out CSG mining in the Illawarra’s water catchment areas.
Finally, local Aboriginal community member, Lyle Davis, expressed his community’s support for the campaign to stop CSG in the area. The crowd was incredibly diverse with people from of all ages, economic strata and political backgrounds present. This is a community united to defend its water supplies, health and environment. But it’s not a purely ‘not in my backyard’ campaign, with demands concentrated on the state government for statewide action to halt the dangerous industry.
Media coverage and photos
Media coverage of the event reflects the growth of the campaign. Visit the Stop CSG YouTube Channel for coverage from WIN TV locally and national coverage from the ABC, Seven and Ten. The Illawarra Mercury featured the event on Monday morning’s front page (the 2nd front page feature of the year, after our human sign in Austinmer).
Check out the Stop CSG Flickr account for some sensational photos – including spectacular shots of us all on the bridge.
Check out the inspirational video… turn up the volume and share it with everyone you know! …
Please watch this inspiring video on the action. It has a clear message to the NSW government and we need as many people to see it as possible… please make sure you share the video far and wide among friends on Facebook, Twitter, email, etc. …and also add a ‘like’ and comment on YouTube … this could be a key step in raising the profile of this issue – and you can make the difference!