The NSW Aboriginal Land Council has applied for coal seam gas exploration rights in Mudgee and Wollongong, with the local area of interest covering 967 blocks about 21 kilometres south of Mudgee.
The organisation currently has five Petroleum Special Prospecting Authority Applications lodged with the Department of Trade and Investment.
Although the NSW Land Council is looking into the local area, Mudgee Aboriginal Land Council chairperson Aleshia Lonsdale said the Mudgee group had no more involvement with the application than it would with any other mining project.
“Even though they’re our state body, we’re kind of a separate entity,” she explained.
Ms Lonsdale said the Mudgee Aboriginal Land Council could only make a submission as a local stakeholder, and would base its approach on the response from the Mudgee members.
NSW Aboriginal Land Council chief executive Geoff Scott was quoted in this week’s Australian, saying the group had seen potential for CSG development in NSW.
“We are after long-term income streams into the future, so we can provide not just for this generation but for the next,” Mr Scott said.
“I won’t resile from that. I’ve never seen any environmentalist or the farming lobby provide real benefits to Aboriginal people.
“People have got to get away from thinking Aboriginal people are the last bastion of socialism in the world.”
Barbara Hickson, president of the Mid-Western Community Action Network, said it was sad to see mining interests emerging in the relatively untouched region south of Mudgee, effectively enclosing the town in a ring of mining.
She said she was disappointed to see the Land Council, previously understood as an ally in environmental protection, taking an interest in the extraction of coal seam gas.
“Still, I would hope that if the Aboriginal Land Council are seriously taking on coal seam gas, perhaps they will show the way to a new environmentally sensitive way of doing this,” she said.
For now, though, she said little was known about the organisation’s plans.
“We just know enough to be frightened,” she said.