Members of several local resident organisations joined forces in a peaceful protest during the visit of the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to Singleton. We have tried to remind the politicians that the out-of-control expansion of the open cut coal mines is destroying Hunter villages such as BULGA.
Here are some responses to this successful protest rally.
On the steps of Singleton’s Civic Centre, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that the Upper Hunter is among the communities that could soon benefit from the NSW Government’s $1 billion to fund local water infrastructure through the Safe & Secure Water Program.
However, it was more than just the Premier’s local appearance that was causing a stir, with a group of protesters attending the announcement to voice their passionate opinions about the demise of the Hunter’s historic villages.
Chanting ‘community before coal’, the group was adamant about having their voices heard by the government officials.
“We want the government to know that the balance of the current system is not right,” Hunter Environment Lobby spokesperson and local resident, Bev Smiles said.
“The current policies and decision making surrounding mining expansions are at the expense of our communities, of our future, of our environment.”
The aim of the Premier’s local appearance was to announce the allocation of funding to secure safe water systems for the Hunter region but the protesters couldn’t help but see the irony in the situation, questioning how the government can ensure safe water systems when mining expansions continue to threaten the Hunter’s water supplies.
“Mining companies are going to walk away and leave massive voids that will be filled with toxic water – precious water that could be used for agriculture,” Robert McLaughlin said at the protest.
But it isn’t just water sources that are causing the village residents’ angst. Sleep deprivation due to noise pollution, constant waves of coal dust, the loss of their sense of community, loss of road links, devalued properties and most concerning for the group, the underlying feeling of being stranded in a place that you once called home, but is now a void.
“Bulga, Wollar, Bylong, Camberwell – there is a whole raft of communities that have either been or are close to being destroyed by mining expansions, and the government is not fairly balancing their decision making,” Bev said.
NBN News – see video:
Police were called at Singleton today, when angry locals staged a protest as the Premier and her cabinet hit town.
The demonstrators voiced their frustration about the mining approval process – saying it’s made their lives hell.
Our hastily organised protest outside the NSW Cabinet meeting in Singleton today. The media scrum was keen to hear about everything that’s wrong with mine approvals in the Hunter, especially when the Minister responsible, Anthony Roberts, came over to have a yarn about it. Now if only he’d listen to communities as much as he listened to massive mining companies….