OPPONENTS of a NSW Aboriginal Land Council application for a coal seam gas exploration licence in the Corowa Shire will converge on the Albury office of the member for Farrer, Sussan Ley, today.
Members of Landcare and a climate group will hand Ms Ley a list of eight ways to protect Australia from coal and coal seam gas development and ask her to take their cause in Federal Parliament.
The lands council’s application for a licence over 5000 square kilometres around Corowa is similar to claims on the NSW north coast and in the north west of the state.
Sydney-based Energetica Resources last year withdrew a similar application for a four-year exploration licence around Corowa.
The NSW Department of Trade and Investment can issue exploration licences, not councils.
The lands council is the nation’s largest Aboriginal organisation and if it was permitted to enter the resources sector, any profits from the venture would be distributed among its 23,000-plus members.
Its chief executive Geoff Scott recently said mining could deliver greater benefits to Aboriginal people rather than relying on governments.
“The fact is oil and gas is going to be extracted whether we are involved or not,” he said.
“For too long, Aboriginal people have been reliant on government.
“This proposed venture is about getting a seat at that table and ensuring Aboriginal people share in the wealth of this nation.”
A petroleum exploration licence was being sought by the lands council for exploration for petroleum and gas.
Hydrogeologist Charlie Showers is concerned about the impact coal gas mining could have on groundwater.
“North East Victoria and the Riverina share a very large aquifer known as the Calivil formation providing clean water for irrigation, stock and domestic uses,” he said.
“My concern is that coal seam gas activities will remove huge quantities of this and contaminate the water in this aquifer.”