1 April 2015

Voters reject anti-mining ‘scare campaign’

Voters in the New England region have rejected the claims of FIFO activists and candidates campaigning against mining at the NSW state election.

Nationals MP Kevin Anderson won the state seat of Tamworth with a swing of 3.9% towards him despite the odds and the claims of his opponents.

Below are excerpts of how the Northern Daily Leader reported the results – the full story can be read here.

THE coal industry’s peak lobby group has seized upon the defeat of independent Peter Draper in Tamworth as an indication of the sector’s importance to the region.

NSW Minerals Council chief executive officer Stephen Galilee said it was a “credit to the electorate” that it had rejected Mr Draper’s anti-mining “scare campaign”.

Mr Draper, who served as the member for Tamworth from 2003 to 2011, ran on a platform opposing mining and coal seam gas extraction on the Liverpool Plains.

He aligned himself closely with farmers fighting against the controversial multi-billion dollar projects proposed by Shenhua Watermark at Breeza and BHP Billiton at Caroona.

But Mr Draper was punished in Gunnedah, where he received just 25 per cent of the vote, and won only the booths of Werris Creek, Dungowan and Currabubula.

“We’re relieved that the people of Tamworth didn’t fall for the hysterical scare campaign that was run by Mr Draper and his supporters,” Mr Galilee said.

“Most of the claims that were made during the campaign in relation to the impact of mining in the region were completely overblown exaggerations designed to scare people into voting for Mr Draper, rather than contribute to a constructive debate around the issues.”

Mr Galilee praised incumbent Nationals MP Kevin Anderson for his push to have the Shenhua project assessed on the facts, rather than emotion.

“Kevin has quite sensibly called for the best possible science, facts and evidence to be available in order to determine whether or not the project should proceed,” he said.

“That is the position of the industry as well.”

Gunnedah Chamber of Commerce president Ann Luke said she was surprised by the narrow anti-mining focus of Mr Draper’s campaign.

She said chamber-run surveys indicated that up to 75 per cent of local businesses supported mining and about 70 per cent supported the industry’s expansion.

“It’s a very silent majority, I feel, that are in favour of mining,” she said. “We would be a much more shrunken town if we didn’t have mining.”


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