The state government is now under ‘‘enormous pressure’’ to legislate a ban on coal seam gas drilling in the drinking-water catchment, anti-CSG campaigners claim.
Stop CSG Illawarra spokeswoman Jess Moore said state Labor’s policy announcement had put a huge amount of pressure on the Coalition to introduce a similar ban.
‘‘The Coalition need to follow suit. We just want Barry O’Farrell to keep his pre-election promise to ban drilling in the catchment,’’ she said.
Ms Moore considered Labor’s announcement a win for the anti-CSG campaign, but said the Illawarra group would not stop fighting until legislation was inked.
‘‘This is what we’ve been campaigning for; we want all political parties to have a policy for safe CSG mining; we really want to see all the parties do that,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s certainly a win; it’s the first time a major party has made a commitment like this, but we want to see legislation.
‘‘This guarantees nothing – it’s now up to MPs to put their money where their mouths are and commit to a ban on CSG drilling in the catchment.’’
Labor’s policy announcement comes just days after dozens of Stop CSG Illawarra proponents stormed the Premier’s office and delivered a 13,000-strong petition calling for a ban on CSG activity in the catchment.
But Ms Moore yesterday denied Labor’s policy was a shrewd political move.
‘‘I don’t think that state Labor is playing politics,’’ she said.
‘‘We’ve been talking to Labor and the Coalition for a long time. This has been a long time coming so I don’t think it’s just some random announcement; we’ve had long discussions to get to this point.’’
Ms Moore believes it simply became ‘‘impossible’’ for the region’s MPs to ignore the community outcry against CSG drilling.
‘‘This has been a really sustained effort, led by the community in the Illawarra, to see change,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s about reminding the government who they work for; the Coalition will [introduce a policy] if the community ensures that it does; the community is demanding this, we want the land that supplies our drinking water protected.’’