- Protect our land and water from mining.
- Honesty and integrity in politics
- Local jobs
- People before profits
- Improved heath and education services.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Budget cuts force prison lockdowns

MEDIA RELEASE - 16 December 2011

NSW government budget cuts to Corrective Services are forcing prisons to institute prison-wide lockdowns in order to 'achieve efficiencies', aggravating tensions within correctional centres and endangering the lives of prison officers.

NSW Greens MP and Corrective Services spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

"Lockdowns should only be used when the security of guards and inmates is at risk, not because it's cheaper to run a prison when all the inmates are locked in their cells.

"Multiple-day lockdowns to save money create a number of serious problems.

"After being locked up by themselves for a number of days inmates are likely to have a large degree of pent-up aggression, which they often take out on other inmates and prison guards.

"Sydney's Long Bay jail, for example, is reportedly imposing regular lockdowns. Last month a fire started by inmates following a three-day lockdown led to eight prison guards being treated for smoke inhalation.

"Corrective Services took a hit in the O'Farrell government's first budget. This included the closure of a number of prisons, a push towards privatisation and the cutting of up to 600 prison officers' jobs.

"This kind of excessive cost-cutting puts extreme pressure on the whole correctional system, and will likely lead to further outbreaks of violence in prisons,"

"The long term answer to prison resources is law reform to reduce prisoner numbers, not cutting corners in administration," Mr Shoebridge said.

Media contact: Mark Riboldi 9230 3030 | 0433 753 376

Friday, 16 December 2011

Victorian plan to log 'parks and reserves' a cause for alarm in NSW; Media Release

“We are horrified that as the International Year of Forests draws to a close, we have a Government in Australia proposing to open up protected areas for logging” said NCEC President Susie Russell.

“In response to the Victorian timber supply crisis resulting from decades of over-cutting and unsustainable practices, the Victorian Liberal Minister responsible is recommending the logging of 'parks, reserves and water catchments' 1 as well as reducing protections for endangered species, bringing in 20 year wood supply contracts and making taxpayers liable for any timber shortfalls.

“The Victorian Timber Action Plan released yesterday is an ecological and social disaster,” she said.

“What is alarming is that instead of seeing the writing on the wall for an industry that has failed to develop its own resource or respect the environment, the Victorian Government plans to head back to the dark ages and repeat the same mistakes by entrenching over-cutting, taxpayer liability and weakening environmental protection of key natural assets.

“It is a recipe for ongoing conflict in Victoria's forests. You would think they would have learned something from the NSW experience. In NSW where 20 year contracts have been in place for more than a decade, and despite lax environmental regulation, taxpayers are already paying compensation to timber companies.

“The fight for the forests will be well and truly on again if the NSW Government follows suit and tries to open up protected areas for logging. We certainly hope they have more sense than to return to an era of protracted forest protest, ” she warned.

“We ask that Premier Barry O'Farrell and Forestry Minister Katrina Hodgkinson rule out solving the timber supply crisis in NSW by opening up national parks and other protected areas for logging, or watering down what we consider to be the already weak environmental protection measures that apply to logging.

“The timber supply crisis in NSW can only be dealt with by reducing contracted volumes, and reducing taxpayer liability. The biodiversity and climate crises can only be dealt with by protecting habitat, carbon stored in large trees, reserve connectivity and water catchment integrity.

“The way forward is less native forest logging not more... Victoria is certainly marching backwards under Bailleau,” Ms Russell said.

Monday, 12 December 2011

NSW gun numbers approach pre-Port Arthur levels

Following reports that the number of registered firearms and firearm
owners in NSW is fast approaching pre-Port Arthur levels, Greens NSW MP
David Shoebridge has called for the government to take action to reverse
the creeping gun culture in NSW.

"It is time to put the brakes on the emerging gun culture in NSW," Mr
Shoebridge said.

"The Port Arthur tragedy led to significant gun law reform across
Australia in 1996. However successive state governments have weakened
the gun laws in order to secure the votes of the Shooters Party in the
Upper House.

"In 2011 the total number of people with a firearms licence in NSW
jumped to 188,149, which nearly matches the pre-Port Arthur level of

"This has been matched by a surge in the number of licensed guns in NSW,
with the numbers growing from 619,000 in 2001 to a staggering 758,802
this year.

"The prime policy agenda of the Shooters Party is getting more guns into
the hands of more people and these figures prove they are delivering on

"Not only is the number of registered firearms increasing, so too are
the number of guns per registered shooter.

"Over the last 10 years, the number of registered guns per licence
holder has risen from just over 3 to an average of almost 5 guns per

"There may be valid reasons for an individual to own 1 or 2 guns, but
what we are seeing is people developing small arsenals. It's dangerous,
unnecessary and it has to stop.

"We don't want the next positive firearm law reform to come after
another tragedy. The government has a responsibility to get ahead of the
game, stand up to the Shooters, and make NSW safer now," Mr Shoebridge

Media contact: 0408 113 952

Today's Sunday Telegraph:

At least 500 coal seam gas wells planned for Northern Rivers

12 December 2011
The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham feared 500 or more coal seam gas wells will pockmark the Northern Rivers if Metgasco plans to export gas to Queensland or to an export terminal off Northern NSW after Metgasco have evidence at hearings of the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Coal Seam Gas on Thursday 8th December in Sydney.
After refusing to reveal internal estimates of the number of wells required, Metgasco Managing Direction Peter Henderson had this exchange with Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham:
"The Hon. JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: In your estimation, would you need more than 500 wells to
deliver that type of project?

Mr HENDERSON: Mr Buckingham, I am sure you have a lot of data from other operations to gain
your own view of that, but certainly 500 wells would be in a reasonable range."

"If Metgasco are serious about earning a social licence from the community they should be honest and up front and say how many gas wells they are planning," said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.
"If a pipeline hooks up the Northern Rivers to Queensland's LNG export market, there will be a large demand for gas. 500 wells may be just the start.
"The nature of this industry is to march across the landscape, looking for new gas and drilling new wells as the productivity of existing wells falls away.
"It's not good enough for this information to be kept secret. Knowledge of the number of wells planned is crucial for the community to make an informed decision about the future of the Northern Rivers," her said.
Contact: Max Phillips - 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916
The Hon. JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: You said earlier on that there was an economic benefit from
this and there was also a suggestion that you are planning to provide gas to the proposed Richmond Valley Power Station. The other proposal you have suggested that you are interested in executing is an export liquefied natural gas project—what is known as the Lions Way Pipeline. Your submission states that it is looking to produce and export 1.5 million tonnes per annum. How many coal seam gas wells do you require to make that a viable proposition?

Mr HENDERSON: There is a question of the size of the market and there is also a question of the
productivity of the wells. The size of the market is clearly an important factor, but so too is productivity, and that is why we have not gone out with a number. Clearly, if a well will produce a million cubic feet a day rather than 100,000, you need ten times fewer wells. We have not gone out with numbers on that simply because we have a lot more work to do to establish exactly how many wells we would need.

The Hon. JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: Considering that you have been established for some time and you have assessed the productivity of your wells as they are, you have done no modelling on an average across those wells of how many wells you would need to supply 1.5 million tons per annum?

Mr HENDERSON: Clearly we have done modelling, but we are certainly not at the point of making the final investment decision on that and we would anticipate having more data before we get there. It is not the sort of figure that we generally quote until we have actually gone through the process and are ready to make some sort of development application or commitment.

The Hon. JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: So you have done modelling of how many wells you may

Mr HENDERSON: We have done internal modelling—

The Hon. Dr PETER PHELPS: Point of order: It would seem to me that we are now delving into a public examination of matters which are of commercial-in-confidence in relation to the operations of this company. While they may have done modelling, I do not see it provides any benefit if they tell their competitors exactly the productivity of the wells that they are currently looking at or could be implementing in the future.

CHAIR: I remind all committee members that witnesses who come to these inquiries do so as guests of the Parliament. They are here to give evidence. If Mr Henderson does not wish to give out information which he feels may be of detriment to his company—or of benefit to his company—particularly in terms of commercial information, he is quite at liberty to decline to answer that particular question.

The Hon. JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: The issue I am interested in is not productivity, which may be commercial-in-confidence; it is the number of wells.

The Hon. Dr PETER PHELPS: How can you work out the number without the productivity of each well?

CHAIR: Order! I am sure the witness is capable of answering the question.

The Hon. JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: In your estimation, would you need more than 500 wells to
deliver that type of project?

Mr HENDERSON: Mr Buckingham, I am sure you have a lot of data from other operations to gain your own view of that, but certainly 500 wells would be in a reasonable range. The other thing you need to take into account is the nature and type of wells. Clearly, we are going to be trying to minimise the footprint of our wells, and it is not so much the number of wells but how many sites you need to have. If we can drill six or ten wells from one site, it will look largely like one well. If you are trying to get the impact and basically what disruption there is going to be to the land area, it is the case of the number of wells and our ability to get as many from one site as possible. A figure we have quoted a number of times is that we would expect to be able to take no more than 1 per cent of the land and certainly less than 2 per cent. That is the sort of measure that we will be taking in terms of managing the success and effectiveness of our operations.

The Hon. JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: Speaking of 2 per cent, if I told you that 2 per cent of the
water you are drinking at the moment contained brake fluid, caustic soda, NF-6, GEL stabiliser, potassium chloride, ethanol, sodium bicarbonate and all the other chemicals you have listed, would you be concerned? Would you continue to drink that water?

The Hon. RICK COLLESS: Point of order: That is purely a hypothetical question and I do not think it should be answered.

CHAIR: The question is out of order.

The Hon. JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: You say in your submission that no chemicals or drilling
fluids are discharged into the environment. Are you saying that you retrieve 100 per cent of all your drilling chemicals and fracking chemicals from coal seams?

Mr O'BRIEN: We have not done any fracking in coal seams yet, but certainly drilling fluids we
recover. One of the things you have to do with coal seam gas is you have to dewater the well. You recover all your drilling fluids plus the water from the well.

The Hon. JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: One hundred per cent—there is absolutely none left in the
coal seam?

Mr O'BRIEN: One hundred per cent.

The Hon. JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: In relation to drilling chemicals, you say:
'All of the above chemicals are removed from Metgasco operations and placed in approved industrial waste disposal sites.'
Could you expand on what those approved industrial waste disposal sites are?

Mr O'BRIEN: Our water handling currently is that our water is disposed of in above-ground holding ponds. We have two styles of pond, one that takes produced water and another one that takes drilling fluids. When those ponds are decommissioned, we will sample the water and any sediment in those ponds, and then we will dispose of both of those according to the quality at that stage.

The Hon. JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: Are they evaporation ponds?

Mr O'BRIEN: They are holding ponds. In the Casino area you get significant rainfall; you also get
some evaporation. Over a 12-month period you will get net evaporation out of those ponds.

The Hon. JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: The only way you deal with produced water and drilling fluids is to hold them in those ponds?

Mr O'BRIEN: Currently, for our production pilots, that is the case, but when we go into production we will look for a beneficial use for the water. We have done a number of studies so far and there appear to be a good range of options for disposing of our water. Our production water, on the knowledge we have so far, is of relatively high quality. It is good enough for stock use as it is, without any upgrading, and then there are multiple parts to upgrade it so that it becomes a fully usable water source.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Fracking contaminated water in Wyoming a warning for Australia

9 December 2011

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said today that the US EPA finding that fracking for gas had contaminated a drinking water aquifer in Wyoming provided a stark warning to Australia not to let the dangerous unconventional gas industry loose on Australia, and called on the NSW Government to make public the number of wells that had been fracked.

The US EPA found that fracking to stimulate gas production by Encana at Pavillion, Wyoming was likely to have contaminated the drinking water aquifer with chemicals from gas production, including the carcinogen benzene at 246 micrograms per litre, and issued a warning for residents not to drink from the aquifer.

The report found: "Chemicals detected in the most recent samples are consistent with those identified in earlier EPA samples and include methane, other petroleum hydrocarbons and other chemical compounds. The presence of these compounds is consistent with migration from areas of gas production."

"The EPA's  Wyoming findings shows that fracking is a danger to our groundwater and that gas and chemicals can migrate underground and pollute other aquifers," said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

"The experience in the US should be a big red flashing warning light saying 'stop the coal seam gas industry before it is too late'.

"The depth of the Wyoming gas wells blamed for the contamination is very similar to the depth that many Australian coal seam gas will operate, and much shallower than typical North American East Coast shale gas wells.  This is a direct warning for the Australian situation.

"The NSW Government should make public a list of all coal seam gas wells in NSW that have been fracked and their location, and initiate an investigation to see if there has been any contamination of adjoining aquifers.

"We heard evidence in the coal seam gas inquiry yesterday that AGL had fracked 117 wells at its Camden Gas Project but also heard that no groundwater monitoring has been conducted by the company of surrounding ground water," he said.

Contact: Max Phillips - 9230 2202  or  0419 444 916

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Epidemic of prison escape rates of concern in Clarence

During the last year, there has been an epidemic of escapes from gaols in NSW. Of particular concern is the escape of a maximum security prisoner from the privately-run Parklea Gaol.

We don't want the Grafton Gaol privatised, nor do we want it closed down.

Prison escape rate triples
MEDIA RELEASE - 4 December 2011

Questions on notice asked of the Corrective Services NSW Commission Ron Woodham by NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge during recent budget estimates hearings have revealed that the number of prisoner escapes tripled from FY 2010 to FY 2011.

"These figures show that there has been an epidemic of prison escapes in the last 12 months with the number of escapees tripling in that time," Mr Shoebridge said.

"Corrective Services Commissioner Ron Woodham needs to answer for this breakdown in prison security.

"These 29 escapes in just 12 months is too many, especially given the fact that 4 of these escapes occurred from the newly privatised Parklea facility with one a proven murderer.

"This is the first escape from a maximum security prison in NSW in the last decade and the privatised operators must be under closer scrutiny.

"While the Coalition has ruled out further prison privatisations in NSW for the moment, there is a real concern that their search for 'efficiencies' will lead to staff reductions and greater security concerns.

"The Coalition government needs to seriously review the management of our private and public prisons given this threefold increase in prison escapes", Mr Shoebridge said.

Media contact: 0408 113 952

Greens welcome govt move to shut down NuCoal exploration


Greens welcome govt move to shut down NuCoal exploration

1 December 2011

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham has cautiously welcomed Minister Hartcher's request to suspend NuCoal's exploration activities around Jerrys Plains, including drilling on legally blind farmer Ian Moore's property, until the ICAC Inquiry has reported.

"Minister Hartcher's action on NuCoal, which will help protect farmers Ian and Robyn Moore's property, is great news and a sensible decision," said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

"The NuCoal project has had a stench about it from day one, and the way it has forced its way on to farmer's property against their wishes was alarming.

"Mr Moore's fight to honour his pledge to his father to "look after the place" is highly commendable and deserves the support of government, even if this particular action has been initiated by the ICAC Inquiry.

"The recognition that NuCoal should cease exploration should not be just an ad hoc political fix, but hopefully signals a change in attitude to protect farms, communities and important environments from irresponsible mining activities.

"The law around mining access needs reform.  Currently it is geared towards facilitating access for mining companies.  The rights of landholders should carry more weight before the law.

"If Barry O'Farrell fails to act, the Greens will look at legislative options to give the above ground operations of landholders increased weight before the law."

Contact: Max Phillips - 9230 2202  or  0419 444 916

Extension of fracking moratorium welcome

Contrary to the advice provided by Chris Gulaptis MP during the by-election campaign, fracking has not been banned in NSW. It is however subject to a moratorium that was due to to expire at the end of the year.

We cautiously welcome the extension of this moratorium for 4 months.


2 December 2011

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham has cautiously welcomed the four month extension of the moratorium on fracking in NSW. The government is heading in the right direction by recognising the need for a precautionary approach to coal seam gas, as had been the call of the Greens for at least 18 months.

"Extending the ban on fracking is a sensible decision that the Greens welcome, but should be extended to the whole industry," said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

"Our water resources are precious and the precautionary approach to drilling and fracking is required, as the Senate Inquiry recently recommended.

"The government must ensure that the review of fracking processes is transparent and accessible for the public.

"The Minister should clarify whether the fracking ban pertains to existing approvals such as AGL's operations at Camden and Menangle Park?

"While welcome, this announcement continues the piecemeal approach to coal seam gas by the O'Farrell Government.

"What the community wants is a moratorium on the entire industry until the science is clear, strategic regional land use plans have been completed and accepted by the community, and the aquifer interference regulation has been finalised to the satisfaction of farmers and experts," he said.

Fracking has been banned in France. There is a moratorium in South Africa. It has been associated with earthquakes in the United Kingdom. Water contamination has been blamed on fracking in the United States and New York is currently moving to ban fracking within 1200m of critical water catchments.

Contact: Max Phillips - 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916

'Public' Meeting with Lismore MP!!! Message from GAG

From GAG,  Kyogle

For the past 6 months I have been trying to setup a meeting with Thomas George Nationals MP Lismore, to meet with the hundreds of concerned landowners around Kyogle district about his "position" on CSG.  It now appears Mr George feels "PUBLIC CONSULTATION" need only involve a handful of "selected" people to a PRIVATE meeting at his office on Monday at 10am 5/12/11. 

I was finally told last week Mr George would not be meeting in public that this private meeting was sufficient.

So please join us to take the "PUBLIC MEETING" to his offices this Monday to let him know how you feel about the situation. 

Mr George is not responding to his constituents letters of concern about CSG and people are furious at yet another snub. 

9.45am meet time Monday 5th December 2011 at address below:

Thomas George MP Lismore (Nationals)
Office: 55 Carrington Street  LISMORE
Telephone: 02 6621 3624

If you can't make it, please feel free to email or phone his office and let him know what you think of his "community consultation". ...............

p.s We have now gone public with this meeting............  and we will be holding this meeting outside the offices with media REGARDLESS of whether there is a last minute pull out by Mr George.  See you there!!

Richard Deem

Thursday, 1 December 2011

ABC News: Spill sparks Greens' call for antimony mining ban

Spill sparks Greens' call for antimony mining ban

Updated November 30, 2011 09:43:55

The Greens are calling for a ban on antimony mining on the Dorrigo Plateau, after another heavy metal spill.

The Department of Environment says a stormwater dam at the old Hillgrove mine near Armidale overflowed into the Macleay River last weekend. Last month, the Environmental Protection Authority imposed new regulations to try to stop spills from the mine, which has been bought by mining company Ancoa.

Greens' MP Jeremy Buckingham says the New South Wales Government should stop Ancoa reopening the mine.

"The Dorrigo Plateau feeds a couple of NSW most important rivers, the Macleay and the Clarence," he said.

"Any antimony mining on that plateau is unsafe.

"We want the Government to rule this area out for mining and protect our precious water resources.

The Environment Department says Macleay River water quality is unlikely to be affected, despite the mine spill. However, Mr Buckingham says the Government should ban antimony mining on the Dorrigo Plateau.

"These spills should not be allowed to continue," he said.

"For the people that rely on that river for their drinking water, for agriculture, for irrigation, any spill is one spill too many.

"The assurances from the various departments, that these spills are minor and will be diluted doesn't carry any weight with these communities."

Related ABC NEWS: macleay-river-spill-sparks-contamination-fears

Dr Johnston researches the controls on arsenic behaviour in coastal floodplain groundwater

Dr Scott Johnston
Dr Scott Johnston sampling in the field.

Two emerging Southern Cross University researchers have caught the attention of the Australian Research Council.

Senator Kim Carr, the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, presented almost $1.1 million in funding to Dr Scott Johnston from Southern Cross GeoScience and Dr Joanne Oakes from the Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry at a ceremony in Canberra recently.

Dr Johnston received an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowship worth $709,212 to explore the controls on arsenic behaviour in coastal floodplain groundwater. Dr Oakes was a recipient of an inaugural Discovery Early Career Research Award worth $375,000 for her investigation into carbon and nitrogen cycling in coastal systems.

Dr Johnston said more than 100 million people in south-east Asia relied on arsenic-contaminated groundwater for drinking and other domestic purposes, leading to what experts describe as one of the largest cases of mass poisoning in history.

“Arsenic is a highly toxic element found naturally in the environment. However its behaviour is poorly understood, particularly in iron-rich, coastal floodplains and lowlands with dynamic hydrology,” he said.

“The problem is particularly acute in the coastal floodplains and lowlands of Asia, such as on the Ganges and Mekong deltas.

“Research undertaken by Southern Cross GeoScience has shown that when these lowlands are inundated with seawater, the iron oxides dissolve causing associated arsenic to be released into the groundwater, surrounding soil and in some cases into waterways.”

According to the World Health Organisation, long term exposure to arsenic-rich drinking water can lead to skin problems; skin cancer and cancers of the bladder, kidney and lung; diseases of the blood vessels of the legs and feet; diabetes; high blood pressure; and reproductive disorders.

For the next four years Dr Johnston’s investigation will explore how arsenic behaves in complex natural environments and in the groundwater of coastal floodplains.

The 40-year-old Southern Cross University alumni was a recipient of the ARC’s Future Fellowships aimed at attracting and retaining the best and brightest mid-career researchers whose work is deemed of critical national importance.

Dr Johnston will travel to Switzerland and the United States to work with collaborators.

For Dr Joanne Oakes receiving the Discovery Early Career Research Award - a new ARC funding scheme for promising early-career researchers - means the 30-year-old will be able to pursue her study entitled, ‘Unravelling transformation pathways and fate of dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen in shallow coastal sediments’.

“This project will significantly advance our understanding of the cycling of dissolved organic carbon and dissolved organic nitrogen in shallow coastal sediments, which is potentially a major part of global carbon and nitrogen cycles,” said Dr Oakes, who will sample locally and at Heron Island in the Great Barrier Reef.

She said rivers and estuaries were a major source of dissolved organic carbon and dissolved organic nitrogen to the oceans.

“These inputs are intercepted and modified by shallow coastal sediments. Processes occurring in shallow coastal sediments therefore determine the form and quantity of carbon and nitrogen in the ocean – and therefore are a potentially major, but overlooked, part of global carbon and nitrogen cycles.”

Macleay Argus Story: Controlled release at mine site


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