A DESIRE to protect the region from coal mining and coal seam gas extraction prompted more than 150 people to unite under the eight points of Call to Country.
Manning Clean Water Action Group (MCWAG) hosted the meeting in Taree and rallied community members, would-be politicians and members of the Lock the Gate Alliance and Gloucester Residents in Partnership (GRIP).
MCWAG president, Chris Sheed said the Call to Country meeting was part of the Lock the Gate National Week of Action from August 17 to 25.
"The Call to Country is a call from the heart of this country and the people that love it, to demand real action to restrict inappropriate coal and gas mining. New mapping shows that more than half of Australia is covered by coal and gas mining titles and applications. The vast scale and impact of what is planned now is almost unimaginable," Mr Sheed said.
Year 11 Taree High School student, Caitlin McLoud read the eight points to the crowd gathered in Taree Uniting Church Hall.
The points are:
1. A moratorium on unconventional gas mining. 2. No-go zones to protect productive agricultural land, national tourism icons and all residential dwellings from coal and gas mining. 3. Federal environment laws to exclude coal and gas mining from important water sources, cultural heritage sites and sensitive environment areas. 4. National standards on coal and gas pollution. 5. Stop taxpayer handouts to coal and gas and make the miners pay their fair share in taxes. 6. Reject proposals for coal ports, mega-mines, dams and gas wells. 7. Research greenhouse gas emissions from mining. 8. A Royal Commission into the management of coal and gas resources.
Keynote speaker Drew Hutton, president of the Lock the Gate Alliance explained the simplicity and significance of the Lock the Gate message.
"Locking the gate means protecting your local environment from mining incursion, industrialization of the countryside, species loss, degradation of agricultural assets and the tourist values of iconic sites around Australia," Mr Hutton said.
Mr Sheed said Di Montague from GRIP gave an impassioned talk on the impacts of coal mining and coal seam gas on the residents of Gloucester.
"Di likened mining to a cancer spreading across the beautiful Gloucester Valley," Mr Sheed said.
"Whilst recognising the disastrous environmental effects of mining, Di said that one of the heart rending social impacts was the manner in which the people of Gloucester had been abandoned to the mining companies by the state and federal governments."
Mr Sheed said six of the nine Lyne candidates for the federal election attended the meeting and all "expressed varying levels of support for the eight key points".
"The audience was encouraged to join the thousands of other concerned people by signing the Call to Country petition. The petitions are likely to be presented to the federal government following the election on September 7," he added.