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QLD farmer commits suicide after decade long battle against coal seam gas.

Independent Senator Glenn Lazarus is leading calls to change coal seam gas mining laws and introduce a royal commission into the human impact of the industry after the suicide of well respected Queensland farmer.

On Wednesday evening, cotton farmer George Bender took his own life after more than a decade of fighting resource companies planning to build CSG wells on and around his Chinchilla property.

Bender was one of the first farmers in his area to take a stand against CSG practices after they damged his underground water bore.

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QLD farmer George Bender. Image via ABC’s 7.30.

His death has prompted calls for a formal investigation into the human impact of CSG and large mining projects by Independent Senator Glenn Lazarus.

Speaking on Macquarie Radio this morning, Lazarus said he was “gutted” by the loss.

“These mining companies are bullying, they’re berating, they’re threatening these people on a daily basis,” he said.

“We’ve brought these hard-working, hard men to tears they’re just so frustrated they have nowhere to go, they have no-one to back them up.”

Lazarus also accused the Queensland government of failing to support farmers impacted by CSG and renewed calls for a Royal Commission.

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George Bender on his Chinchilla farm. Image via ABC’s 7.30.
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“Let’s just take a deep breath and put a pause on CSG mining projects until we can establish the human and environmental impacts,” he said.

“What really gets me so frustrated is the governments of the day just don’t care what they’re doing to Australians and Queenslanders … just honest hard-working people that want to work the land.

“They’ve given them no rights to say ‘no’ and they just don’t care that these people are living in an absolute nightmare and they don’t care because these governments are being given donations.”

He suggested the establishment of a resources ombudsman to give farmers a point of contact for support.

In Sydney on Friday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull described Bender’s death as a “shocking tragedy”.

He said that he was “looking into it”, but elaborated that the issue of mineral exploration rests largely on the states.

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Many farmers are struggling against pressure from large resources companies. Image via ABC’s 7.30.

State issue or not, Lazarus said he would be putting pressure on Federal Parliament and knocking at the door of newly appointed Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has just re-approved the controversial Carmichael coal mine despite ongoing concerns from environmental groups and the Queensland farming community.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt gave it the green light on Wednesday, essentially ignoring potential risks to endangered species and precious groundwater resources in the area.

At present, Queensland farmers are committing suicide at twice the rate of the rest of Australia.

If you find yourself in need of help, for any reason, crisis support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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