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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Open Letter to Mark Harper - General Manager - Sydney Gas Ltd

Mark HarperDear Mr Harper,
How many of your neighbours even just within 100 metres of your home can you name? What about the names of their children, pets etc.?
How many of their phone numbers do you have in your head?
The difference between what people in the city call a "Community", usually a word pre-pended to phrases like "Health Centre" or "Drug Clinic", and what the people in rural areas call a community, is that we actually live a community life.
Most people in this community know each other, know their kids and dogs names and we have many of their phone numbers in our heads.
You live within minutes of emergency services. If we have an emergency an ambulance is at least 30 or 40 minutes away for most of us, and it's often the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.
Rural communities rely on each other. It's the code of the bush - the stuff of Banjo Patterson and Henry Lawson - it hasn't died out here. It may be a curiosity to you, but it's our lifestyle, a lifestyle we have chosen over an urban one with high background noise and a lack of human spirit.
We embrace the spirit of the pioneers and the brave men from rural Australia that fought and died for this country, taking that bush ethic into war with them creating the ANZAC legends.
How can you, simply for the sake of your shareholders pockets in a climate change-driven frenzy for cash, come in and knowingly fracture these small communities, actually trying to divide specifically small communities that have no choice in the matter due to draconian laws of our State Government.
You don't live here, you don't understand the importance of each precious foot of land that we work for a living, and how putting up industrial structures with deadly chemicals and gasses will destroy that environment - along with the community - and cheapen our land values in already very hard times.
You said at the Chamber of Commerce meeting in Wollombi, that "Shareholders speculate - it's like a lottery."
How can you and your company, with absolutely no knowledge of life here, gamble with our lifestyle, our future, our safety, our financial and physical security, and even our property values - properties that in many cases have been handed down through many generations of the same family - these "pleasures that townsfolk never know".
Drilling for gas in closely settled areas like those along the Wollombi Brook is simply not appropriate and won't be tolerated. It may be appropriate in vast tracts of land where you don't have people living anywhere near the gas fields and infrastructure. If that's more expensive and difficult for you. Tough. Shareholders speculate!
When whoever or whatever made this incredible planet, be it a God, a number of gods, a wayward alien or just a universal accident, they put the gas far underground for a good reason.
Do you know what that reason is?
To power the fires of hell, where people like you and the politicians applying the laws that support you will spend eternity for what you are doing to the spirit and the history and the lives of the magnificent people that are the custodians of Rural New South Wales.
So go back to your "...dingy little office where a stingy ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall..." and think about how you can justify imposing - on so many good and honest, hard working people - the "foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city through the open window floating, spreading foulness over all".
Peter Firminger - Wollombi (with a little help from The Banjo)