CSG boycott threats "hitting below the belt" businesses say
CASINO retailers are bewildered over anonymous warnings they will be boycotted because of their Richmond Valley Council's alleged support for the gas industry.
Walker St butcher Grant Shedden said any campaign to shun local retailers was "hitting below the belt" - regardless of where the threats came from.
Warnings about the boycott have reportedly been sent to at least four businesses along with Richmond Valley Council.
"It just seems to be a bit gutless," Mr Shedden said.
"If they feel that strongly about the issue they should say who they are - if I've got something to say, I tell people to their face.
"We're neutral in all of this. We want people to shop here regardless of their position on CSG."
North Coast Firearms proprietor Sharon Greber agreed, saying the gas issue "never gets discussed in here… if you took a stand either way it would have a negative impact on your business."
A special meeting of Casino businesses over the warnings was held last night by the Casino Chamber of Commerce.
Chairman Kim Morris said the meeting hoped to find out if anyone else had been affected by the letters, but said a debate over the gas issue was of "no relevance to the Chamber".
Mr Shedden, owner of Smiths Quality Meats and a Casino Beef Week board member, also said there were "jobs at stake" in any threatened boycott.
"We're the only butcher shop left in the main street; once there was about eight."
"If there was a boycott of the town and people started to go to Lismore… without jobs there's less people to spend money in town, so it's pretty important."
Another retailer who wished to remain anonymous because of their private views on gas said people were "just not spending" at the moment.
But that person said gas "would be good" for retailers in Casino and pointed to Roma in Queensland as an example of a rural town turned around by the unconventional gas industry.
Casino Knitting Nanna Against Gas Cheryl Whitlen, who knits in a group on Walker St every Thursday morning, said she didn't believe the letters were coming from gasfield free supporters, pointing to the online mining forum HotCopper where a similar tactic of discrediting the gas opposition was openly discussed.