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Alternative fracking expo set up by community after shire restricts free speech

Unhappy with restrictions placed on free speech at a shire organized fracking expo in Dongara on Wednesday, local farmers and other concerned residents set up their own community fracking expo in the town.

The community expo was organized by the Frack Free Mid West Gascoyne Alliance after the shire organised expo placed a ban on the use of public speakers and the showing of films.

Organiser of the community event Jo Franklin from the FFMWGA said the alternative expo allowed people to discuss the issues and listen to speakers from groups including Doctors for the Environment.

“The shire expo placed so many restrictions on what we could do and say and pushed us to the back of the recreation centre so we decided to go it alone and hold our own event,” Ms Franklin said.

“We did take part in the shire expo and set up static displays but we felt we needed to make our point in a more interactive and engaging way so set up an alternative expo in the centre of town.

“It was a way of taking our message directly to the people.

“We were disappointed that the shire organized expo seemed to favor the industry and government view on fracking over the concerns of local people.  Nine anti-fracking groups were keen to be part of the shire expo but were given only a small space and gagged from public speaking and using audio-visual presentations.

“Our community run expo allowed people to hear another side of the fracking debate and to see films documenting what life is like when the fracking industry forces its way into a community.”

Included in the community expo was a free screening of Western Australian director Richard Todd’s award winning documentary film Frackman, which looks at the human impact of fracking in Queensland.

“The fracking industry has millions of dollars to throw at fancy displays and spin while we have homemade posters and other materials made on budgets funded by cake stalls,” Ms Franklin said.

“But we do have very good audio-visual materials and excellent speakers and the people of the Mid West should be allowed to see and hear these voices.”

Irwin farmer Rod Copeland said his group FAIR had taken part in the community expo because it was important to put concerns about fracking directly to the people whose lives would be impacted by the fracking industry.

“The shire expo included a code of conduct that meant we weren’t able to state our case in anything other than static displays so we put our energies into the community run event,” Mr Copeland said.

September 24, 2015


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