Ben ‘Fracker’ Franklin should pack up his Byron Bay digs and head back to Sydney: Saffin

STATE Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin today (Thursday 4 June 2020) slammed the NSW Nationals for voting against a Private Members Bill that would permanently protect the Northern Rivers from harmful Coal Seam Gas mining.

Thursday, 4th June 2020.

STATE Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin today (Thursday 4 June 2020) slammed the NSW Nationals for voting against a Private Members Bill that would permanently protect the Northern Rivers from harmful Coal Seam Gas mining.

“Byron Bay-based Parliamentary Secretary for Energy and the Arts Ben Franklin and his fellow Nationals did a 360-degree turn last night hoping no one would notice and sought to turn the guns on others,” Ms Saffin said.

Ms Saffin said with the bill due to be debated in the Legislative Assembly today (June 4), she would be watching to see whether North Coast-based Nationals MPs Gurmesh Singh (Coffs Harbour), Chris Gulaptis (Clarence) and Geoff Provest (Tweed) would become turncoats as well.

“If these MPs are serious about protecting the Northern Rivers and North Coast they will vote for this bill,” Ms Saffin said.

“In 2015 at the Nationals’ State Conference, Ben Franklin seconded a motion put by  Chris Gulaptis, calling for the need to recognise widespread opposition to CSG and to buy back CSG licences.

“Ben Franklin then warned that a solution was needed otherwise the Nationals could lose the seats on the Northern Rivers for a generation, and that ‘if we do not get this right the people of the Northern Rivers will not listen to us on anything else’

“You got that right Ben as you lost another seat, Lismore in 2019 and went backwards, and the people of the Northern Rivers will never listen to you or your Nationals mates again.

“You had the chance to protect the water, the farmers, the agricultural industry in the Northern Rivers and Narrabri, and you ran away from it.

“Ben ‘Fracker’ Franklin should pack up his Byron Bay digs and head back to Sydney, because he has sealed his fate by putting city interests ahead of country people.”

Ms Saffin accused the Nationals of not being serious about protecting our people, our water, our farmlands and our agricultural jobs in the Northern Rivers from the harmful effects of CSG.  

“They are only serious about protecting their own jobs, whether it be the Deputy Premier spot or a seat they “claim” as theirs as of right,” Ms Saffin said. 


“They only reacted to electoral loss for them — losing the state seat of Ballina and nearly losing Lismore in 2015. It was not support and protection for us; it was ‘jobs’ protection for them. 

“I stood up against Metgasco when I researched and discovered the harmful effects of CSG mining. I took it into the Federal Parliament and advocated hard to get whatever power the Federal Government had in this matter enacted to protect our water.

“I helped secure ‘water trigger’ legislation which was subsequently weakened by the Abbott Government and the Nationals.”

Ms Saffin said the Petroleum (Onshore) Amendment (Coal Seam Gas Moratorium) Bill 2019, has the following key elements:

  • It imposes a moratorium on the prospecting for, or the mining of, coal seam gas across New South Wales.
  • It applies no-go zones to particular areas deemed off limits, including the local government areas of the Northern Rivers region, drinking water catchments, national parks, residential areas and prime agricultural land.

The Northern Rivers is made up of Tweed Shire, Byron Shire, Ballina, Lismore City, Kyogle, Richmond Valley and Clarence Valley.

Ms Saffin said: “Farmers want the permanent protections of this bill, locals want this, anyone who cares about water wants this — that is all of us — the agricultural, fishing tourism sector want this.

“I have advocated for a statewide CSG moratorium to my NSW Labor colleagues and indicated that I would cross the floor of Parliament if I had to,” Ms Saffin said.

“The 2019 bill is similar to (NSW Shadow Minister for the North Coast and Shadow Minister for Climate Change) Adam Searle MLC’s 2015 bill so we (Labor) have a long history of standing up to protect the Northern Rivers.

“I also moved a motion at NSW Labor’s State Conference to create no-go zones here on the Northern Rivers.”

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