Native Title claimants fight CSG

AFTER a meeting held in Tamworth recently Gomeroi Native Title claimants have taken a stand against Coal Seam Gas mining and are seeking legal advice on ways to stop all mining and development on their ancestral lands.

Local Gomeroi Native Title claimant Alf Priestley said the claimants lodged an injunction on mining.

“Aboriginal people are the land. We are connected to the land, trees, rocks and waters and by digging the place up its takes the natural minerals and resources out of the ground,” he said.

When the Moree Champion asked Mr Priestley what he thought about the injunction, he said that he didn’t really know.

“Aboriginal people have been forced to sit on the fence about this. Either way our land is being taken away from us. There is only 17 per cent of vegetation left in Australia and that’s because these farmers and cities have cleared the land to put crops in and to build big towers. We aren’t benefiting out of CSG and neither out of stopping CSG,” Mr Priestley said.

A broad range of farmers and community members concerned about the impacts of new mining and coal seam gas proposals across North West NSW are expressing their support for the Gomeroi Native Title claimants in their recent stance to halt all mining in the region.

The Gomeroi Native Title claimants are the latest group to publicly oppose coal seam gas in the North West, joining a range of farmers, town residents, conservationists and church ministers in the battle.

“I have the greatest respect for the stand made by the Gomeroi people, working to make sure this magnificent land remains healthy and capable of supporting humans, and also fauna and flora,” said Tambar Springs farmer David Quince.  

 “I am delighted to support the stand of the Gomeroi people,” said Anne Kennedy of Coonamble and representative of the North West Alliance.

“In our area, Wun-Gali representatives have resolved to declare a moratorium on all coal seam gas activities on their traditional lands and in the Coonamble Shire until such time as it is proven that CSG activities will not have a detrimental effect on the Great Artesian Basin.”

“Gomeroi people join and strengthen the chorus of voices that want to see a pause on mining and coal seam gas activities in the North West,” said Naomi Hogan of the Wilderness Society.

“The Gomeroi people will not be lying down,” Gomeroi claimant Anthony Munroe told NITV.

 “Mining is coming to our country but we are going to fight them every step of the way through the courts, through the protests, and through the support of the Gomeroi people.”

 “Native title has not been extinguished on water, and Native Title has never been extinguished over our trees, plants, animals and everything else,” claimant Michael Anderson said.

 “We don’t care what title you’ve got, but we’re not going to allow you to destroy our connection with all those things.”

The Gomeroi people say coal mining and CSG will have devastating affects on their land.

Mr Anderson said the injunctions could mean mining exploration and development is frozen in the region saying they have sought legal advice on how to impose the bans.

He hopes the Gomeroi people’s decision to fight mining will inspire others in the country to do the same.

The Gomeroi country extends broadly from the QLD/NSW border region to Tamworth, Aberdeen/Muswellbrook, Coonabarabran and Walgett, areas rich in mining resources.

On January, 20 2012 representatives of the Gomeroi people filed an application in the National Native Title Tribunal which sought to have the Federal Court recognise Native Title over the area.

The matter has been listed for further directions in the Federal Court in Sydney on June 24.

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