Mercy mission to Chinchilla after farmer's death

Late Hopeland farmer George Bender.
Late Hopeland farmer George Bender. Emma Heron

JUST days after the tragic death of Chinchilla farmer, George Bender, international representatives of a group concerned about human rights and mining will be in town to offer their support to the grieving community.

Sisters of Mercy, Sister Aine O'Connor and Sister Denise Boyle are members of United Nations for Mercy International Association whose work includes human rights issues in relation to mining and unsustainable development.

The Sisters are visiting Chinchilla to gain a local perspective on this global issue surrounding human rights and the extraction of unconventional gas. They will share information from Canada, Ireland and USA and the upcoming International People's Tribunal into fracking planned for 2017.

The whole community has been deeply shocked and saddened by George's suicide last Wednesday.

The Sisters will meet community members today from 6.30pm to 8.30pm at the Catholic Church Hall, Middle St Chinchilla.

Lock the Gate's, Drew Hutton, Shay Dougall, spokesperson for the Hopeland Community Sustainability Group and many other locals will attend.

Alan Jones has been vocal about CSG.
Alan Jones has been vocal about CSG. Kevin Farmer

Mr Bender's death was mentioned by radio presenter Alan Jones and independent Senator Glenn Lazarus, who has called for industry to be halted.

Senator Lazarus released a tribute statement to Mr Bender saying he would "ensure that Australia sits up and takes notice of what is happening to the people of Australia affected by coal seam gas mining".

Mr Lazarus described George Bender as a "a brave, courageous and big-hearted cotton farmer" who had "fought for ten years to keep CSG mining companies from entering his land".

"George's bores, which provided much needed water for his family and farm, had already dried up as a result of the CSG mining activity taking place in the neaby area.

"They then wanted to come on to his land and install a number of CSG wells which would have further disrupted his farming business and caused additional pain, suffering and financial hardship for George and his family."



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