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Anti-fracking campaigners go extra mile | Border Watch

Raquel Mustillo | Border Watch

ANTI-FRACKING campaigners will again make a 900km round trip to Adelaide next week in support of Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell’s bid to ban hydraulic fracturing in the region for 10 years.

The protesters will take to the road in Mount Gambier around 4am on Wednesday, picking up in Millicent and Kingston before travelling to Adelaide to watch the debate and subsequent vote.

Alliance chair Angus Ralton encouraged members of the wider community to join the bus trip and demonstrate their support for the independent MP.

“Troy Bell has been fighting for our community with his motion to legislate the moratorium in law,” he said.

“We know Troy needs all the support he can get and we really need to drill it through to the Liberal Party that it is expected of them.

“Absolutely everyone in the South East will be affected by fracking if it does get up and running and we would advise everyone to get involved and come along so we can ensure our future generations live in a clean and green environment.

“It is going to be a great fun trip and we will see this through to the end.”

While the State Liberal Government has imposed a ministerial directed moratorium, the  group and Mr Bell have long argued it fails to consider a change of government and can easily be overturned.

Previously, Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said he was committed to “respectfully examining” Mr Bell’s proposed legislation, but said it may not improve the protections extended under the existing moratorium.

This week, the Mount Gambier branch of the Liberal Party joined the growing number of voices calling for a legislated ban, saying they were “concerned” the existing moratorium alone “does not provide sufficient certainty in the event of a future change in government”.

“Their own party expects it of them and we ask Premier Steven Marshall and Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan to stay true to their electorate pledge and get this happening,” Mr Ralton said.

“At the moment, the State Government is having a bob each way and trying to win us over by this ministerial directive moratorium.

“This wishy washy approach is not good enough and we do not expect this from our parliamentary leaders.”

A contingent of residents travelled to Adelaide in July to witness Greens MLC Mark Parnell attempt to introduce amendments to the legislation.

The 20-strong group was joined by Mr Parnell, Mr Bell and Member for MacKillop Nick McBride at a demonstration at the front of Government House, before moving in the Legislative Council to watch the vote on Mr Parnell’s bill.

Ultimately, the bill was defeated in the upper house with a vote of 17 to four, with only Mr Parnell and Greens colleague Tammy Franks and SA-Best MLCs Frank Pangallo and Connie Bonaros voting in favour of the legislated ban.

Following the division, the contingent of protesters interjected with cries of “shame”, “disgraceful” and “disgusting”, to which Legislative Council president Andrew McLachlan directed security to escort them out.