Anti-coal seam gas farmer's death lights fire in locals

SOLEMN TRIBUTE: Jen Greene-Galloway, Sarah Moles, Marianne Irvine and Siobhan Elliott were among the locals who gathered to pay tribute to Chinchilla farmer George Bender in a candlelit vigil in Leslie Park.
SOLEMN TRIBUTE: Jen Greene-Galloway, Sarah Moles, Marianne Irvine and Siobhan Elliott were among the locals who gathered to pay tribute to Chinchilla farmer George Bender in a candlelit vigil in Leslie Park. Jayden Brown

THEY were few but their words were strong, their message clear.

The grief following the death of anti-coal seam gas farmer George Bender has touched Southern Downs residents - and they say enough is enough.

Some of them knew George. Others felt as if they had known him - his struggle resonating in their own lives.

For the dozen locals who gathered to remember the respected Chinchilla farmer on Thursday night, the shock, grief and frustration at his passing was still very real.

The emotional vigil came just a week after the 68-year-old cotton farmer took his own life after a 10-year battle against CSG.

Among those at the vigil were members of the Southern Downs Protection Group, who knew George well.

Marianne Irvine got to know George when she became a knitting nanna - a peaceful protestor against gas and mining.

"George was locking the gate before the Lock the Gate movement started," she said.

"I'm shocked to my core that this has happened."

Fellow knitting nanna Jen Greene-Galloway also knew George.

"He was a gentle, gentle man who fought for justice," she said.

Poems and speeches were read, as participants paused to remember.

Sarah Moles knew George through her work with the Southern Downs Protection Group.

She said his death was one step too far.

"George's death is really tragic and does stand out as enough is enough," she said. "We don't want George's death to be in vain.

"This is very serious stuff we're dealing with.

"It's not surprising it was pushing George over the edge."

Vigils have been held across the country, with mourners calling for stronger action from politicians.

Topics:  farmer, george bender, locals, warwick

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