A 26 year old woman from Newcastle locked herself to the gates of the Santos Depot in Narrabri, North West NSW to highlight the ongoing struggle against gas companies faced by landholders in Queensland and New South Wales.
Laura Smith has taken this action to honour the life of George Bender, a well respected farmer from Hopeland in Queensland who fought tirelessly to save his farm from mining giant Origin.
“They are a bunch of liars, cheats and thieves,” stated the late 68 year old farmer, George Bender, towards the coal seam gas (CSG) industry that he had been in battle with for 10 years.
George was one of the first farmers to say “no” to CSG, and refused to sell as his neighbours had done. A fifth generation farmer from Hopeland, near Chinchilla, Queensland, George took his own life on Wednesday 14 October as the pressure became overwhelming.
As George’s daughter, Helen Bender, said “Unfortunately he died of a broken heart, as he became a shadow of what he used to be. He was fighting for Hopeland’s future, and for tomorrow”.
George also faced the horrific possibility that his land had been made worthless by the Linc Energy underground coal gasification project.
Investigations are continuing into George’s death which could be linked to psychiatric injury caused by the direct bullying and stress of dealing with a CSG company.
Here in the north-west farmers are facing the same issues when dealing with Santos. It was reported by a local farmer that if they signed with Santos they were not to talk about the sale, not to associate with any protest group and not to talk to the media.
Laura says “I am taking this action today to shine light on the greedy companies that are bullying our farmers, poisoning the water and destroying our forests and farms. They are putting pressure on landowners to a point that is unbearable for many. We need to give landholders the right to say no to CSG mining, they must have the right to live a happy and healthy life. This CSG madness has to stop. My heart goes out to George Bender’s family and friends and to any others that are going through this battle. Please take heart, you have our support.”
A Federal Senate Select Committee is conducting a review of unconventional gas mining in Australia with a focus on ‘The adequacy of Australia‘s legislative, regulatory and policy framework for unconventional gas mining including coal seam gas (CSG) and shale gas mining…’THE CLOSING DATE FOR SUBMISSIONS IS 14th March 2016.
So far this year the campaign to save the Pilliga forest from Santos’ CSG mining has seen 32 charged and numerous penalty infringement notices.
For images contact, Naomi Hodgson 0448 337 072