By TIM HOWARD
One of the Grafton’s longest running protest groups, The Knitting Nanna Agains Gas, couldn’t let the opening of Nationals Clarence candidate Richie Williamson’s campaign office go without comment.
On balance they have been pleased to see current Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis take a stand against coal seam gas mining in the region.
Spokesperson Leonie Blain said Mr Gulaptis was on the record calling for a CSG ban in the Clarence Valley, but not everyone in the Coalition was on board.
“We came here today to remind the Nationals candidate that the Clarence Valley expects a similar stance from Mr Gulaptis’s successor before we go to the polls,” Ms Blain said.
After the 2015 State election, where Ballina fell to the Greens and the Lismore and Tweed results caused heart tremors for the party, CSG, the Nationals read the tea leaves.
”It’s the biggest issue of concern coming out of the election,” he said. “It would be wrong to ignore it – the community want a gas-field free Northern Rivers,” Mr Gulaptis said at the time.
But others in the party were less supportive, notably outgoing leader Andrew Stoner, who, in his valedictory speech, supported the industry and berated its opponents.
He said they were running “the mother of all scare campaigns, driven and funded by individuals and groups ideologically opposed to the use of any fossil fuels.”
Ms Blain said getting away from all fossil fuel was vital and CSG also remained a threat to farming and food production.
Ms Blain feared the so-called “energy crisis” in Australia and the controversy over gas prices could encourage people to rethink their opposition to CSG mining.
Last week four of the group put up signs outside the Nationals candidate Richie Williamson’s campaign offce in Prince St Grafton.
Four of the Knitting Nannas, Ms Blain, Sarah Fletcher, Diane Dadswell and Nancy Eggins stayed for a couple of hours while the Nationals faithful launched their Clarence Valley election HQ.
The Northern Rivers Times. March 9, 2023.