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Aussies Against Fracking
GENERAL PURPOSE STANDING
COMMITTEE No. 5 27 MONDAY 31 OCTOBER 2011
THOMAS DAVEY, Chairperson, Tourism
Advancing Gloucester, affirmed and examined:
CHAIR: Thank you for appearing before the Committee. Would you like to make an
Mr DAVEY: Yes. Firstly, welcome to Manning Valley. We hope you enjoy your stay.
tourism in Gloucester. We are only a very small group in Gloucester, about 140
tourism businesses that employ
about 9 per cent of the local workforce. The industry in Gloucester generates
about $28 million worth of tourism
dollars per year, which is not bad going for a small shire of about 5,000
I note that in our accompanying
shires in Manning, greater Taree generates $140 million and Great Lakes is
another $140 million, so when you
put those three together we are quite a sizeable chunk of the tourism business
on the mid North Coast. The good
thing about this particular industry is that most of it is retained in the
community, so the $28 million earned in
Gloucester stays in Gloucester with the small businesses that I represent.
I have been in tourism for about 20 years promoting destinations. Gloucester is
a destination. It has
World Heritage-listed Barrington Tops and the Gloucester-Stroud Valley is also
National Trust listed. That is
one good thing about being a destination, particularly in the twenty-first
Twenty-first century tourism is
all about experiences and Gloucester is at the top of that because it can
provide clean green experiences —
adventure tourism, wellbeing tourism and agri-tourism. I am here for a very
small town in a very beautiful
location that is under threat from coal seam gas mining.
Just after this Committee inquiry was announced some advertising started
appearing in the paper. I will
hold up this advertisement so the Committee can see it. This is Brooke, who is
from Singleton, and it is pretty
clear what she is demanding: she is demanding coal seam gas.
This ad appeared
four weeks running in our local
paper and then they changed the heads and we had some new faces. I will read an
open letter from a Gloucester
resident in response to this ad:
It was with dismay that I saw your pretty smiling face in the "We want CSG"
advertisement in our local Gloucester paper. I saw
that you are demanding coal seam gas because of the economic benefits you think
it will bring to your town.
I agree with you that rural towns need more that one key industry. In our past,
Gloucester has relied on timber, then dairy, now
beef cattle, mining and tourism.
Let me count the reasons why we don't want coal seam gas in Gloucester:
Because its ugliness will destroy our tourism industry;
Because of the risks from their poison ponds to our rivers and aquifers;
Because of the risks to our productive farmlands and treasured wildlife;
Because the 110 gas wells planned for our valley will destroy its National
Because it's not a sustainable industry (once it's gone, so too will be the gas
And because the gas mining companies use advertising with pretty faces like
yours, to divide our community based on the
possible benefits to just a few.
We don't need another short-lived industry in Gloucester such as coal seam gas
to lead us down yet another path of dependency.
So yes, by all means please keep coal seam gas in Singleton for the benefit of
your local community. But here in Gloucester, we'd
like something better.
Church St., Gloucester
Coal seam gas equals ugliness, equals risks, it is not sustainable and it is
divisive. In conclusion I want you to
remember only three words today—mining kills tourism. I hope you enjoy your
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: Is there no scope whatever for any middle ground in this
debate? Is it
a zero sum game as plainly as you present it?
Mr DAVEY: We have a mining town already with one coalmine and another coalmine
that wants to come right up to the first fence in the backyard backing the town.
Now we have 110 coal seam gas
wells about to start plus another 220 in the plan. On top of that there is gold
exploration going on at the moment.
As I left home this morning there was a plane buzzing in my valley, going up and
down, up and down. The town
really does feel under siege when there are planes buzzing during the day and
you know it is an exploration
plane. We already have a mine which was pitched to the town as being a boutique
coalmine and it would be
gone in 20 years time. Those 20 years are up and they have asked for an
extension and for 24-hour operating.
There is middle ground for something you already have but when it appears to be
swallowing you up every
which way you turn the feeling in the town is that the miners are on the march
and they include coal seam gas.
When you feel like they are marching up the valley and they are going to walk
all over town that is where the
stress comes from for the town.
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY: I feel like I am acting as the devil's advocate in
putting this question
to you: What if there were farmers in this area who were prepared to support
coal seam gas exploration and
mining on their property? What do you say about that proposition?
Mr DAVEY: As I mentioned earlier, the whole proposition is divisive. I know
there are people on my
tourism group who have suffered friendship breakdowns.
The husband of a woman
with a well-established
business in Gloucester that was a State finalist in the bed and breakfast
category in the Hunter region took a job
in the coal seam business with AGL and she said she has copped abuse in the
street from people who are longterm
It has the ability to tear people apart on the basis of perceived
self-interest. They receive special
deals from the mining companies and short-term gain for long-term pain in the
The Hon. JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: In another role I am a councillor and we have made a
significant investment in Orange City Council in western New South Wales in
something called "Brand
Orange", so I understand a little about branding and tourism branding. You have
made a significant contribution
in your submission about the impacts of coal seam gas on tourism branding. It is
not just a name; it is a
significant socio-economic investment. What is your branding now and what do you
think the threat is in the
future to that branding?
Mr DAVEY: Those of you who watch television or read a newspaper will know what a
brand is. You
will know what Coca-Cola and McDonald's stand for. Brands represent a space in
people's minds. I am very
lucky because I work with a group that had identified our brand values and
created a mission statement before Iwrote this submission. Those seven points in my submission are the brand values
values identified by our group are scenic drives, pretty rivers and productive
farming valleys, village atmosphere
and old world charm, friendly people, country hospitality, gourmet cafes and
wineries, boutique shopping on a
relaxed main street, extensive accommodation choices for any budget, and World
Heritage listed nature for
adventure and wellbeing.
A lot of those values can apply to any area in New
South Wales and I encourage those
areas to come together to create their own values because this is what we judge
ourselves on in our group.
judge all activities that we do. We have those values on the wall and this is
what we stand for, so it is very easy
and very clear to judge everything based on those values.
Anything that goes against those values is clearly a threat to the tourism
businesses in Gloucester. As
you can see from my submission where we talked about the water and noise and all
the things that could be
detrimental to the brand, it means they could be detrimental to the businesses
of Gloucester and downstream to
the Manning River Valley and the Great Lakes as well. It is not just the $28
million that is at risk; it is the $320
million at risk.
CHAIR: You mentioned there are 2,600 people employed in the industry. Is that in
the whole valley?
Mr DAVEY: No, only 240 people are employed by the tourism industry, which is 9
per cent of the
CHAIR: Is it $28 million from Gloucester-Barrington alone?
Mr DAVEY: Just for the Gloucester region, yes.
The Hon. PETER PRIMROSE: I will not challenge you about brands but one of the
struck me in the conversations today is that people are talking about wells and
not about pipes. Maybe it is
because we are largely talking about the exploration phase at the moment and not
production. Are you aware ofwhere the pipes are proposed to go to transport the gas and what effect that
Mr DAVEY: I am not an expert on where they are laying those. It is actually hard
to track down the
information from AGL as to where the pipeline will go. It looks as if the pipe
will operate along Bucketts Way
from Gloucester and down behind Stroud.
The Hon. PETER PRIMROSE: How would you view the brand of this community in
relation to the
Mr DAVEY: A pipeline is a scar on the face of Gloucester's beauty.
CHAIR: What about if it is underground?
Mr DAVEY: I think the flaming smoking wells are the poke in the eye in
Gloucester's beauty so if we
do not get it one way we will be poked in the eye somewhere else by something
CHAIR: Have you actually seen a gas well?
Mr DAVEY: Again, it is hard to find a picture of a gas well because there is not
one on the AGL web
site. The photographs I have seen have been on ABC television, on a web site and
wherever I could get an angle
on what it looks like. Sometimes you just see a row of trees. That is the image
AGL wants you to look at. The ad
on television for Santos about how good they are in western New South Wales does
not show one well; it shows
cows. They do not mine cows. It is hard to paint a picture. I like to talk about
pictures and I find it very difficult
to get a handle on words that apply.
CHAIR: Just so everyone knows, I was not trying to trap Mr Davey or be a smart
aleck. Unless you
get taken to see one of these things they are a bit hard to find. That does not
mean when you have 400 or 2,000
of them they are not a nuisance. It is just that they are not intrusive. I think
the point Mr Primrose was trying to
make was that the wells on the farms are not the end of it. You then have to
have a pipeline to transport the gas
and in some locations you have to have a plant about as big as this room with
some big gas turbine engines
pumping that gas. It is not just the little wells you are talking about.
Mr DAVEY: When I first came to Gloucester four years ago I drove from Ingham
along Bucketts Way
in the middle of drought. We actually drove down from Queensland and the only
parts of New South Wales that
were green were Byron Bay and around the Gloucester-Manning River valley. We got
to the Mograni Lookout
and there is a spectacular view right down the valley.
That will be a perfect
viewpoint of the 330 coal seam gas
mines that will be put down in that valley. You will get to see it without
needing an aeroplane.
The Hon. JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: What about agriculture? It is often given a bad name
of its viability and whether it is an ongoing concern because of the reduction
of agriculture and the numbers of
people in that sector. In my district there has been a reinvigoration, a
renaissance in boutique horticulture, clean
green food and slow food. Is that happening in Gloucester and is coal seam gas
potentially a threat to that
Mr DAVEY: Coal seam gas threatens everything. That is the easiest way to put it.
turning a corner in Gloucester. Everybody knows about the Gloucester Project,
which has just been awarded
over $250,000 by the State Government to do more research work and to grow
alternative land uses for growing
food. It is very strong on the food security agenda.
What price do you put on
the health of a vegetable that has
travelled only a couple of kilometres versus one that has come all the way from
the United States or India or
Israel? What price do you put on that from a health point of view?
stress enough that locally grown
food is going to be the way of the future. Gloucester is trying to head that way
and we have the funding to do so.
So anything that is detrimental to that path is just going to fly in the face of
food security in the future.
The Hon. SCOT MacDONALD: I take you to the land offsets for coal seam mining. I
am not aware
of any proposal ever by any coal seam gas mining company to approach this
looking for land offsets. I can be
corrected, but the main reason is the footprint is quite small. Yes, it is a bit
larger than when they first do their
test drilling, but then it comes back to, as somebody said previously, roughly
the size of a shipping container.
So, unless you can tell us otherwise, I do not believe there has ever been a
request to go down that pathway of
an offset. Are you aware of that?
Mr DAVEY: Not in particular. Mining companies and the gas mining companies have
pockets and when the fire is started by a group such as the one behind me, they
will start offering money and
they will buy out people who are against them. They will buy out farmers and
they will buy out greenies. We are
surrounded by stunning landscape and what we do not want is somebody to say: We
will protect that mountain
top because we are going to obliterate the valley. We do not want that to
CHAIR: Can you give the Committee a bit of an idea about what is the forward
plan for tourism in
Gloucester and Barrington? What do you want to do?
Mr DAVEY: We have just completed a strategic plan for tourism in Gloucester and
are the three things I mentioned at the beginning of my presentation: Tourism
that is adventure-related; tourism
that is wellness and wellbeing related; and agritourism, that is, farm stays,
farm experiences and farm gate trails.
It is all about food and it is about beauty.
CHAIR: Hunting and fishing too?
Mr DAVEY: Great fishing. You are more than welcome to come to Barrington Tops
and the area for
fishing at any time.
CHAIR: In your forward plans, what sort of growth do you expect from your
current $28 million?
Mr DAVEY: The last time it was measured was 2007, so I believe $20 million, but
it is way beyond
that now and there has been exponential growth in adventure tourism over that
time in Gloucester. Blue sky, I
cannot put a figure on it. I know it is beyond $28 million but I thought we were
talking about the published
numbers. So clearly, the drive would be the $35 to $40 million. As I said, $140
million for the Manning Valley
and $140 million for the Great Lakes—why can't we do that?
CHAIR: Does your group have any promotional material you can leave with the
Committee or have
you already done so?
Mr DAVEY: I have a "Wellbeing in Gloucester" brochure. It is a brand new
brochure that has just
been released. Brad Bowden from Tobruk is sitting over here because he is the
massage therapist in town. He is
part of this new group of wellbeing practitioners in town we are trying to
promote. We are already on the ground
running trying to promote our town in twenty-first century tourism.
CHAIR: Can you table that and a copy of the letter?
Mr DAVEY: Yes. I have a copy of that, and do you want a copy of the
CHAIR: That will probably help. We can copy the advertisement and return that to
you if you wish.
(The witness withdrew.).
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