Genuine inquiry, or soapbox for extreme claims?

February 25th, 2016

Independent Senator Glenn Lazarus is visiting Narrabri this weekend  – not as part of his ‘inquiry’ into unconventional gas, but as a guest speaker at a meeting of the activist group North West Alliance.

The fact that Senator Lazarus is undertaking this engagement is not a surprise, given his strong bias  against CSG, but it is incongruous with his assertion last week that he does not support extreme protest and is not associated with Lock The Gate.

That being the case, he should be concerned to see that the North West Alliance uses the same triangular symbol as Lock The Gate Alliance and that the promotional flyer for his appearance includes a picture with people holding Lock The Gate paraphernalia.

The North West Alliance event is listed in ‘coming events’ on the Lock The Gate website.  And Saturday’s event will include a workshop for ‘gasfields free’ – a Lock The Gate protest campaign.

If Senator Lazarus decides to overlook the obvious links, and speak at the event, he might want to consider what he has to say about protesters breaking the law, causing trouble for locals and workers and refusing to follow police directions.

This has been a live issue in the Pilliga in recent weeks and is now serious enough that police have had to use pepper spray to force offending protesters to move.

In the Senate this week,  Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon moved a motion to condemn police for doing this, despite their weeks of patience with increasingly belligerent protesters.  Senator Lazarus was the only Senator to support the Greens.

The motion was voted down – and condemned by Nationals Senator John Williams, who described it as a “new low” to “try to stop police from doing their job”.

“People have a right to protest, but they do not have a right to trespass and break the law despite what the Greens think,” Senator Williams said.

Apparently Senator Lazarus thinks he knows more about appropriate law enforcement than the NSW Police – or the Queensland police for that matter.

On the first day of his Senate inquiry into CSG last week, he showed his bias – and willingness to adopt extreme and unsubstantiated views, in the following statement, which he later turned into a meme for use on his social media accounts:

“Queensland families living with the scourge of CSG are suffering from health problems and being denied medical care.  I believe this is a form of genocide and criminal charges should be laid.”   

Are these offensive and inflammatory words those of a responsible chair of a Parliamentary committee, using taxpayer funds to ‘inquire’ into an industry?  Or are they the blunt tools of a politician looking for headlines, who has already come to his own very extreme conclusions?

If it is the latter, Senator Lazarus should save MPs’ time and taxpayers’ expense by bringing his inquiry to a swift conclusion.

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