A group of farmers from the States Midwest have joined with conservationists, church leaders, unionists, social justice groups, lawyers and others at Parliament House to demonstrate their objection to anti-protest laws being debated in State Parliament.
The farmers are from the Irwin and Carnamah Shires, where communities have vowed to protect their land and water from gas fracking - including by locking their gates to prevent access by gas companies.
Catherine Davenport from Carnamah said "We are calling on the Nationals to lock the gate against these draconian new laws just as communities are preparing to lock their gates against gas fracking across the Mid-west.”
Earlier this month, Carnamah was declared 'gasfield-free' at a community-organised ceremony following a survey revealing the support of 96.8% of residents.
"My community has made a powerful declaration against gas fracking and we plan to stick by that. Now we need our Nationals MP's to stick by the communities that elected them”.
"We are ordinary farmers - but we would be made into criminals by this new law, simply for defending our rights to clean air and water." Said Mrs Davenport
Rod Copeland, mango and rockmelon grower from the Irwin Shire said "Any law which takes away our right to protect the health of our families, farmland and groundwater must be rejected by the WA Parliament”.
"Under this proposed law, farmers would become criminals for locking our gates against gas fracking on their land. Even worse, farmers would be presumed guilty of a crime as the laws would reverse the presumption of innocence.
"I am well aware of what contaminated sites look like on farmland, and am totally against the development of at least 40 gaswells on a nearby farm, many of which will be fracked in the near future as the supply/wellhead pressure depletes. I will be doing all I can to prevent that from happening on my farm and within our immediate community. The practise of ‘fracking’ should be outlawed in all of WA.”
“I am calling on all National Party MPs, to take into account the events of the recent NSW elections and vote a resounding NO to The Criminal Amendment (Prevention of Lawful Activity) Bill 2015 when it is tabled in State Parliament”.
The group handed a petition to Colin Barnett with over 14,000 signatures opposed to the laws. Over 65 groups have signed on to a joint statement opposing the proposed laws.
More photos of the event available for download here
contact for comment: Simone Van Hattem – Protect Peaceful Protest Alliance 0421 389 013