Gulaptis accused of 'SLAPP-ing' down CSG concerns
CLARENCE MP Chris Gulaptis has been accused of using the threat of lawsuits to intimidate and silence coal seam gas critics.
"The CSG debate sadly has sparked the appearance of an ugly American political phenomenon: the tactic of strategic lawsuits against public participation, which is also known as SLAPPs," Shadow Minister for the North Coast Walt Secord told Parliament.
"This is a tactic to silence those standing up for their communities by bringing or threatening lawsuits intended to censure, intimidate and silence critics through fear of the cost of a legal defence."
Mr Gulaptis said last week he would "not hesitate" to take defamation action against protesters who publicly claimed he had secret links to the CSG industry, dating from his time as a surveyor before 2006.
He said the claims were untrue and at the time he worked for the company in question, LandPartners, he had never even heard of CSG.
"As far as I'm concerned, that's nothing but gossip and malicious lies," he told APN.
Labor used parliament to reaffirm its commitment to keep the North Coast free of CSG.
Mr Gulaptis called Mr Secord and his ilk a party of "born-again activists" who were playing politics with a serious issue.
"What he doesn't say is that the reason we've got the problem with CSG in the Northern Rivers is because Labor issued all the licences," he said.
"He hasn't said how he was going to pay for the Northern Rivers to be gasfield-free."
CSG not wanted in Clarence but ban doubtful
RETIRING Ballina MP Don Page may be a lone voice in the NSW Government in his push to keep his electorate completely free of CSG mining.
At the end to his political tenure and largely freed from the party-room shackles on speaking freely, he used his valedictory speech on Tuesday to call for the entire Ballina electorate to be declared a CSG no-go zone.
Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis said he understood the comments and his electorate shared many of Mr Page's concerns.
However, he suggested the financial needs of the state may trump those of his voters.
"I certainly agree that, given the community reaction to CSG over the last few years, that the industry is at odds with the community and therefore the character of the Northern Rivers," he said.
"It's very similar in the Clarence electorate.
"There are concerns about turning an agricultural area into an industrialised area - concerns shared by a lot of people, myself included.
"In saying that, we have a responsibility to everybody in NSW to deal with it in a logical way, not just to play politics as we see with these born-again activists.
"What Labor say they are going to do and what they actually did when they were in government are at opposite ends of the spectrum.
"They're as far away as Mars is from Venus."