CSG protest heads to Melbourne streets

GIPPSLAND farmers and supporters in the hundreds travelled to Melbourne on Sunday to present Northern Metropolitan MLC Greg Barber with signatures calling for a ban on new coal and unconventional gas mining in Victoria.

In an unusual alliance against the expansion of coal and gas mining on prime agricultural land Gippsland farmers, business owners and locals marched alongside Melbournians from City Square to the State Library.

The crowd of about 1000 carried yellow ‘Lock the Gate’ triangles and dressed in costume to attract the attention of the national television news.

Many also took along fresh produce from their farms to highlight the value of Gippsland’s food production.

Melbourne-based group Quit Coal’s Chloe Aldenhoven said the fact Melbourne people were also joining in showed how much farms and water were valued.

The crowd, rallying under the ‘Farmers Against Fracking’ banner, presented the signatures to Mr Barber, who will table them in Victorian Parliament today.

Protestors were joined by comedian and master of ceremonies Rod Quantock and speakers including beef farmer Tanya Brown and Seaspray Primary School teacher and daughter of dairy farmers, Kirra Boulton.

“The spirit of co-operation and support among our Gippsland communities in fighting this threat is phenomenal,” Ms Boulton said.

The rally was held because of concerns Energy Minister Nicholas Kotsiras will not follow through on his promise to consult locals over proposed mining in the farming region.

The protesters argued coal seam gas and other unconventional gas mining posed a number of risks to food and water security which are of paramount importance to the survival of farming communities.

Under current legislation, exploration licenses are issued on farmland and farmers have little say over whether or not mining goes ahead on their land.