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GAS FIGHT: Australian CSG proponents are not alone in having to deal with a vocal minority of opponents.

Fracking debate needs science, not fear

The anti-fracking brigade loves to dress up myths and fallacies and pretend it is science.

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Resident and co-convener of the group Frack Free Geraldton
Mark Pownall exhibits a surprising lack of understanding of basic maths when he claims (Business News, August 25) that it is not possible to get a figure of 96 per cent from a survey of the people of Central Greenough. He bases this claim on the fact he has “driven past” the community and he has “checked it out from Google Earth.” It seems that this form of “in-depth investigation” has given him an insight into what is possible for country people to attain. Mathematical confusion and lessons about percentages aside, the people of Central Greenough are in fact perfectly capable of conducting a through survey and coming up with a figure that demonstrates the results of their overwhelming desire to declare their community gasfield free. Mr Pownall made no contact with the people of Central Greenough who conducted this survey before blasting it as unscientific and claiming such a survey was impossible to do. He claims the Bureau of Statistics would be struggling to carry out such a survey, as would, he claims “a proper survey company”. However it is actually possible for a team of dedicated local people to knock on the door of every home in Central Greenough, speak to the occupants and come away with a result. Gasfield Free community declarations are a form of grassroots democracy that have been spreading across the nation. The community process involves volunteers talking to their neighbours and going house to house, street to street in a coordinated and well-documented process. In the case of Greenough, a team of eight volunteers spent four weeks knocking on every door in their community. If no-one was home they came back at least three times before marking the property off as vacant or the owners away for an extended period, and moving onto to the next house. The survey methodology was devised by health and community survey professionals in the Northern Rivers of NSW and has been tried and tested in communities across NSW and in parts of Queensland and Victoria. Community members take great pride in ensuring their areas are canvassed thoroughly and the teams work hard to try to make sure that every adult in that community gets the chance to have their say on whether they would like their neighbourhood declared gasfield free. In the case of Central Greenough 131 people aged over 18 were surveyed with 126 saying “Yes”, one person saying “No” and four saying they were “unsure”. This is no vox pop or push poll, it is a through and honest, people to people survey that makes a strong and committed statement to protecting an area from an invasive industry. While it may seem hard for the industry to accept, communities across Australia are standing up against the unconventional gas industry is ever growing numbers. They are mobilising to protect their land, their water, their health and their communities from a high risk, unsafe, non-renewable industry. The Greenough Gasfield Free Community Declaration is a clear statement from 96.2 per cent of the people of Central Greenough that the unconventional gas industry does not have a social licence to operate in their community. Whether Mr Pownall or the industry likes it or not, the people have spoken. Jo Franklin is a Geraldton resident and co-convener of the group Frack Free Geraldton.

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