But that’s what happened. A community, fed up with a lack of representation from their local member, took on the responsibility themselves and achieved what many thought was the ‘impossible’.
I worked on Cathy’s campaign from its inception. Throughout the campaign I witnessed rural communities across Indi harness an incredible amount of human energy towards political recognition.
After Cathy won I noticed an interesting phenomena all across Indi: communities were left feeling empowered. They knew if they set their minds to it, they could create change.
One year on and I am still working with rural communities – but on a very different issue.
Recently, we’ve seen an increase in terrible stories coming out of the rural regions of New South Wales and Queensland. An invasive unconventional gas industry has been taking over their land and destroying their communities. Entire farming districts – almost always against their wishes – have seen their fertile farming land be transformed into destructive gasfields.
Feeling exploited by big business and let down by politicians, yet again deaf to the needs of rural Australia, many affected communities have organised grassroots campaigns against these developments to varying degrees of success.
But in Victoria we have a unique chance to stop the invasive gas industry it before it even gets a foothold. Thanks to some incredible work by Quit Coal and Lock the Gate Victoria, the Victorian Government has extended a moratorium on unconventional gas until 2015. This was a politically prudent decision because it means that fracking wouldn’t become an election issue this November.
But all signs show that come mid July 2015 the ban on fracking could well be lifted – it all depends on how much pressure we can put on the government before then.
And if it does get lifted it doesn’t look good for rural Victoria. Exploration licences for CSG, tight and shale gas cover vast amounts our precious farmland and surf coast and test drilling has already begun in Seaspray, Gippsland. Potentially more than one third of Victoria could be turned into a gasfield – including our most fertile farmland.
We don’t plan on letting this nightmare become a reality. The Lock the Gate Victoria campaign has already been hard at supporting communities across the state for two years. During this time 25 communities have declared themselves Coal or Gasfield Free and dozens more are preparing to!
There is incredible energy being created across rural Victoria against the introduction of the unconventional gas industry into their communities. And there is a resounding message that is being told time and time again throughout the state – coal seam gas and unconventional gas mining has no social licence to operate.
With Governments blind to the destruction caused by this industry as long as money keeps coming in to line their treasury, the responsibility and power rests with the community. But we need your help.
We are fortunate in Victoria to be running a proactive, rather than reactive campaign and have a good chance of stopping invasive gas before it gets a foothold.
Please watch and donate to our crowdfunding campaign to keep our Victorian gates locked to the gas industry. It is the only way to protect our rural communities, the places we love, our food, our water supply and our climate.
I’ve lived and worked closely with rural communities all my life and I know that with your help we can pull off the impossible again and keep mining companies off our farmland.
Gippslanders celebrate declaring themselves Gasfield Free!