COAL seam gas opponent and Great Lakes local Dayne Pratzky has raised his hand to run in next year’s local MidCoast Council elections, after returning from addressing a large public rally held at Sydney’s Town Hall on Sunday.
Thousands attended the rally to protest against a diverse range of issues surrounding NSW Premier Mike Baird’s government, including its lock-out laws, forced council amalgamations, the coal seam gas industry and the WestConnex tollway. Mr Pratzky was invited to speak on the coal seam gas industry and council mergers by March Australia Sydney. Anti-coal seam gas advocate Mr Pratzky first rose to prominence as the focus of the documentary Frackman.
Speaking about the merger, Mr Pratzky said that there was lot of concern that MidCoast Council’s new administrator John Turner would turn around and push the controversial Rocky Hill coal mine project at Gloucester through.
“John Turner is heavily linked to the coal industry,” he said, acknowledging that Mr Turner didn’t have the authority to push the mine’s approval through himself.
“But these projects always roll ahead easier when they have council backing. This is the worry. And when you do all the sums, it doesn’t make sense to amalgamate – it’s obvious there’s an alternative motive.”
He referred to MidCoast’s Council’s interim general manager as one of the “best general managers in Australia” but wondered what cost the merger would have on Great Lakes residents. He said the rally was mainly made up of ‘mums and dads’ with few of the usual anti-mining protestors on the ground.
He was reported as urging “everybody to occupy your undemocratically elected councils’ meetings, exactly like we did a few days ago in Foster” and to “take back our democracy” from Mike Baird.
Mr Pratzky said he plans to run for local government next year and despite two offers from political parties thinks he will opt for running as an independent.