CSG rally in Sydney's CBD
Thousands of people from across NSW have descended on Sydney's Martin Place, calling on the state government to protect land and water resources from coal seam gas (CSG) mining.
Chanting "Protect our water, protect our land, city and country, united we stand," farmers, environmentalists and families affected by CSG exploration and production marched on state parliament on Tuesday.
Organisers told AAP that about 6000 people were attending the rally, some waving banners reading: "Our politicians have not got the fracking message" and "Can't eat coal, can't eat gas".
Others donned gas masks and wore T-shirts saying: "Don't Frack With Me".
NSW Farmers president Fiona Simson later upgraded the number of protesters, saying it was "an extraordinary rally" of about 8000 to 10,000.
Ms Simson accused the government of trying to discredit the diverse group of protesters and said it was far too big an issue to play politics.
"I am not sure what Macquarie Street was thinking they would see out their windows and into this crowd," Ms Simson said.
"But I am telling you what I see is mothers and fathers and women and men and families and country people and city people - all have put their differences aside to come today to rally to protect our land and our water."
The President of the Country Women's Association, Elaine Armstrong, said the issues surrounding CSG mining were so important that they had inspired the group to march on Sydney for the first time in its 90-year history.
"This is more than just tea and scones ... This is about protecting our land and water," Ms Armstrong told the rally.
Cattle and wheat farmer Victoria Hamilton said her livelihood would be "ruined" if coal seam gas mining was allowed near her farm in Wee Waa.
"Our son is fifth generation, 30 years old and wants a future," she told AAP.
"If this comes onto our place we won't have a future."
Natrisha Parish - a wheat and barley farmer from Liverpool Plains, in the north-western slopes of NSW - said the state government's draft plan will leave nothing sacred from CSG mining.
She said she feared for the future and health of her two teenage children, who also marched in protest.
"It's very concerning for future generations and for our water, food and our security," Ms Parish said.
Drew Hutton, president of the Lock the Gate community group, said CSG mining could not be defeated on purely farming or environmental grounds.
"What we have to do is bring the two together, bring farmers and environmentalists, city and country together," he said.
"This rally here today is the best expression of this that I've ever seen - and we're going to win."
The NSW deputy premier Andrew Stoner was booed and jeered when he stood in front of the rally.
He said the government needed to get the balance right between protecting the state's food bowl and allowing communities to seize "new economic opportunities".
"I am not here to make any grand announcements," he told the crowd.
But he said everyone could be assured that the government was listening.
"I am very well aware of the depth of community feeling about this issue," Mr Stoner said.
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