Ten NSW Knitting Nanna Loops have written to the NSW Minister for Mental Health, Bronnie Taylor, about the effects of Petroleum Exploration Licences (PELs) on mental health in rural areas. PELs which have been unused for many years are deemed to be expired, and the government is supposed to cancel them. This has not been done, and these dead but undead ‘zombie’ PELs cause great anxiety in rural communities already stressed by drought, fire, Covid 19 and uncertain foreign trade.
Our letter below calls upon Ms Taylor to slay these zombies for good and all.
Sydney Knitting Nannas posted the letter today.
Copy of letter:
Dear Ms Taylor,
Knitting Nannas across NSW are very concerned about the mental health of landholders in areas with expired Petrol Exploration Licences (PELs). These people have suffered extensively over the last few years from severe drought, floods, covid and in some areas bushfires and more recently hail storms.
Added to these natural disasters and the increase in their intensity from climate change, is ten years of uncertainty surrounding these PELs. While these PELs remain expired and not cancelled, farmers are unable to make decisions on expansion and on buying new plant and machinery. This in turn affects many rural businesses and towns.
Also, rural youth can see no future in working in agriculture where gasfields and gas infrastructure dominate the landscape. The associated health risks, especially to young children make these areas unattractive to young families too.
You say your government is ‘spending more on mental health than has ever been spent before’ but at the same time your government is one of the causes of mental ill health.
In July 2019 the Boggabri branch of the National Party moved at the party’s state conference in Inverell that all PELs be extinguished as they expired. This was adopted unopposed but the Party has done little to make this a reality.
National Party politicians have asked gas companies to relinquish expired PELs but it is up to the government to extinguish them.
The approval of the Narrabri Gas Project has increased the anxiety of people living in areas where the looming threat of an unnecessary gas industry will significantly change their way of life.
Independent NSW MLC Justin Field has given notice of legislation to extinguish the 12 zombie PELs, which cover more than 55,000 square kilometres between the Upper Hunter and Queensland border.
We expect you, as the NSW Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women, to advocate to ensure this bill is passed by your National Party colleagues.
Please advise how you plan to meet our expectations.
On behalf of NSW Knitting Nannas Loops in
Downstream – Taree