MOORABOOL Council has joined a collective push for a moratorium on all coal seam gas mining and new coal operations in the state, almost a year after lobbying by concerned residents.
At an emotionally charged council meeting last Wednesday, where some “No New Coal” campaign supporters were brought to tears, the council passed a motion backing the moratorium put forward by Cr Tonia Dudzik.
“We need to stand up for our community,” Cr Dudzik said.
“We need to protect our people in our town, to keep them and their food safe.”
Councils including Bass Coast, Colac-Otway, Yarra, Moreland, Port Phillip and South Gippsland have already signed the moratorium document.
A mining partnership of Mantle Mining and Exergen is evaluating the results of a scoping study, which could lead to a coal mine in Bacchus Marsh.
At a packed-out meeting, nearly 50 local supporters of a moratorium broke into rapturous applause when the council voted 5-2 in favour of supporting one. Several councillors admitted they’d been recently swayed to support it.
“I came here tonight with a conservative view . . . now I think it’s a moderate response to the issue,” Cr John Spain said.
Eleven passionate residents got up to speak, including environmentalists, mothers and business people who implored council to “show leadership, not management”.
“Support us, not them,” visibly emotional Parwan resident Kate Tubbs urged the council.
Another resident, Jennie Fraine, said: “Council is fence-sitting rather than showing action.”
“Send a message to government, seize the opportunity and fight for your community . . . locals should be in charge of local decisions,” resident Mark Farrell said.
Cr Tom Sullivan and mayor Cr Pat Toohey voted against the move, saying it would limit council’s ability to influence the process further down the track. “It could do us a disservice,” Cr Sullivan said. “We could be perceived as biased. It would limit us and put us at a greater risk.”