Prominent Maitland Greens figure John Brown has criticised the push to make the region a leader in the national gas industry and called to declare the city a gas free zone.
We need to focus on renewable energy right now, the time to invest is now. And yet we’re still playing with fossil fuels – it’s ridiculous.
“I think the discussion around gas is a denial of the future,” Mr Brown said.
“We need to focus on renewable energy right now, the time to invest is now. And yet we’re still playing with fossil fuels – it’s ridiculous.”
His comments came in response to the Mercury’s report on Monday that both sides of politics, along with local industry, wanted to unlock the state’s natural gas reserves.
Mr Brown, who served in local government and recently ran in state and local government elections on a Greens ticket, said Maitland City Council should declare the area a coal seam gas free zone.
“It’s not without precedent,” he said.
“In the 1980s Maitland declared itself a nuclear free zone under the then mayor Paul Unicomb.
“It doesn’t have a great deal of power but it’s symbolic. We need to stand up to [the gas industry].”
Mr Brown disputed the Federal member for the Hunter Joel Fitzgibbon’s claims that the construction of gas infrastructure would create jobs in the Hunter.
“It’s finally dawning on Joel Fitzgibbon that the coal industry jobs are declining … But he’s grasping at straws, grasping at the immediate benefits of saying gas, gas, gas.”
Mr Brown said solar and wind, the renewable energy sector, would provide jobs on a long term basis while gas was simply denying the inevitable and necessary investment.
“People out there are taking up solar panels, they believe in climate change, but politicans don’t want to talk about it.
“Maitland has a very high youth unemployment rate. Think about your children, think about the next generation, look to the future.
“Not to this in-between gas.”