Gas protesters too loud for Hazzard
Drowned out … Mr Hazzard at the meeting in Lismore.
THE Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard, had intended to reassure the people of northern NSW about coal seam gas but his message was shut down in an emotional public meeting.
Mr Hazzard was drowned out when he tried to speak for much of the two-hour meeting on Wednesday as many of the 1000 people in Lismore City Hall chanted slogans, heckled and turned their backs on the speakers, who included the Nationals MP for Lismore, Thomas George.
Mr Hazzard slumped to his chair several times as the audience took over the meeting, with members of the crowd, some in tears, stressing their opposition to coal seam gas drilling.
"I'm not a radical, I'm a grandmother, and we've got out backs to the wall here," said a woman. Boudicca Cerese, a coordinator with the Lock the Gate Alliance, which opposes large-scale drilling, said the meeting reflected community anger.
"People are angry because they feel they're not being listened to," she said.
Metgasco, Arrow Energy and Red Sky Energy have coal seam gas exploration licences in the Northern Rivers.
Mr Hazzard said an orchestrated, well-organised group had prevented meaningful consultation with the community. "Ten out of 10 for demonstration. Zero out of 10 for consultation,''he said.