Across the state and in the capital we organised, painted and gathered together. We were positive, but reserved, anticipating a total ban but preparing for something less beneficial. Farmers, who have held out for years, campaigning and developing imaginative protests, were looking for a prospect of relief, hoping their hard work had paid off, ending the uncertainty. Last Tuesday was the end of the Victorian Government’s self-imposed timeline for a decision on onshore gas in Victoria, and we were prepared.
Early in the day we received the news: there will be no announcement. It has been postponed until August. Rural and city folks alike were disappointed by the delay, but with the stoicism required for life on the farm and the determination developed through a four year campaign we gathered together and let the Andrews Government know we are not going away.
Throughout Rural Victoria and outside Parliament we mustered utes. Groups of farmers and city folks let them see how much we want that ban. We blocked the streets, flew our yellow banners and held up our varied and colourful signs. Chloe made a short and flowing speech, we chanted, Rueben gave the moment grace with his sax and our camaraderie carried us through.
We got the news that the new Minister for resources, Wade Noonan, needed time to thoroughly review all the information received so far. Only one week into the portfolio, there had not been enough time to consider all of the issues at hand. So the wait has been extended and Victorian farmers are still faced with uncertainty and all of the anxiety that brings.
If there is anything we know about the rural people of Victoria, it is that they are determined and will fight on as they have for years.
There is one piece of information that Minister Noonan must have already: there is no social licence for onshore gas here.