'Declare Victoria Gasfield Free' rally
|Committed protestors at today's rally|
Unlike 'conventional gas' which is found in large reservoirs, 'unconventional gas' is trapped in coal (coal seam gas), sandstone (tight gas) and shale (shale gas). Because it is not free-flowing, unconventional gas requires hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking' for extraction. With fracking, massive quantities of water, sand and a cocktail of over 600 different chemicals are injected underground at high pressure to create cracks through which the gas can then flow.
The process sounds nasty and indeed it is - for water which can become depleted and contaminated, for food when agricultural land is decimated by mining, and for communites, which feel worried and threatened at the prospect.
|Ursula, Victorian Co-ordinator Lock the Gate|
These people succeeded in pressuring the former Liberal State government to put a temporary ban on the process. And at the moment they are determined to keep the Labor government on the straight and narrow. As Ursula (above), one of the speakers at the rally put it: 'Now is the time for the Victorian Government to step forward and become the peoples' protector.' She added: 'We can do this the easy way or the hard way, but together we will.'
There is fervent support for Ursula's position and one of the things that particularly delighted me today was that so much of it naturally comes from regional Victoria. Instead of being surrounded predominantly by fellow city folk at a rally as is usual in Melbourne, today there were lots of country people in evidence, who had often travelled long distances to the Melbourne CBD to fight for what they believe in:
|Lorraine, a 'knitting nanna' from the Latrobe Valley|
Some important people even travelled from interstate to be with us. Drew Hutton, who in 2010 formed the 'Lock the Gate Alliance', has been working tirelessly ever since with threatened communities across Australia.
|Drew Hutton surrounded by media today|
As a veteran of a successful battle against the dud East-West Link, with its identical advocates - the government/big business alliance - I feel cautiously optimistic that we will be able to keep Victoria gas-field free. And I must say one of the delights for me personally today was meeting up with some of my old Tunnel Picket mates who, like me, have been moved to join this fray:
|Familiar, and dear, faces|