12 November 201
Hi Everyone –
Thanks for turning out to this rally, to protest against a major potential risk to the Coffs-Clarence Regional Water Supply.
I apologise for not being here today but, with only a week left until the Clarence by-election on 19 November, it is hard to find the time to attend every public event.
Thank you for allowing this short speech to be read out on my behalf in my absence.
I have made the by-election a referendum on mining regulation. My key message throughout the campaign has been to protect our rivers from mining. There’s coal seam gas mining in the north of the electorate and, just south of the southern boundary, at Wild Cattle Creek, there is a proposal for an open cut antimony mine.
I am concerned about the potential impacts of the proposed antimony mine at Wild Cattle Creek on the Nymboida and Clarence Rivers, and our communities that rely on these rivers.
Antimony is a highly toxic substance. Any leak at the mine would have a devastating impact on the Coffs-Clarence water supply, and downstream industries such as fishing, agriculture and tourism.
The NSW Government has to give a guarantee that antimony mining will not be permitted in this area. Proposing a ‘balance’ between mining and farming is not good enough. The fate of the Clarence and Coffs communities rests in this 'balance'.
Vague statements from Premier O’Farrell that a newly formed Environmental Protection Agency will somehow guarantee the safety of our water supply are too weak. For a start, he is not recognising that compliance with pollution licensing is likely to be constrained by a lack of staff and the remoteness of the site.
Most significantly, he is not recognising that an open cut mine in that area, with extremely high rainfall, will generate an enormous amount of polluted water in the Nymboida River, which could end up in the Shannon Creek Dam and here in the Karangi Dams. And then it may end up in our taps.
The Government made a very poor decision when it renewed the exploration licence for Anchor Resources’ Project in late September. Unlike coal seam gas exploration licences, this is not something they can blame on Labor.
I firmly believe that, when it comes to high rainfall areas in the catchment of our domestic water supply, the only safe way to contain antimony and arsenic is to not to disturb the ground.
The residents of Coffs Harbour should be demanding Andrew Fraser MP to represent their interests and secure a guarantee from the Government that no large open cut mine will be permitted in the catchment of our shared water supply.
Voters in the Clarence Valley should be also be sending a message to Sydney by casting their vote for the candidates who are raising this issue on their behalf.
There is however only one candidate who is clearly stating, “Don’t ever mine antimony at Wild Cattle Creek and risk our water.”
That candidate is me, the Greens Janet Cavanaugh.