6 C
Byron Shire
August 15, 2022

Government set to spy on CSG protesters

Latest News

Mud benda rant

Regarding last week’s Splendour Festival and all the ‘haters’ out there. I took along a few seriously fun-deprived teenage...

Other News

Guest chef brings something fun, casual to Barrio

Joining Chef Santiago Socrate at Barrio Eatery & Bar’s guest chef barbeque, on Wednesday 24 August 2022, is Chef...

Out of the Blue Adventures wins Tourism Hero Award

A local whale watching and eco-tourism business has been announced as one of the region's Local Tourism Heroes at a gala dinner co-hosted by Destination North Coast.

Bruns underground car park reconsidered 

Byron Council’s decision to approve a controversial mixed-use development in Brunswick Heads that would include the town’s first underground car park could be overturned at this week’s meeting, with a group of councillors moving a rescission motion.

Singing songs of sorrow and resilience

Tucked away in a Mullumbimby music studio, a group of local musicians have been pouring their hearts out through song.

Flood on Prince Street

It seems that the strongest impediment to the Prince Street temporary housing is the addition of fill to the...

Lismore Council votes against supporting Assange

At Tuesday's Council meeting Councillor Guise proposed a motion that Council writes to the Federal Government, Prime Minister and relevant Ministers denouncing the extradition of Julian Assange from the UK and urging the Prime Minister to make a public statement denouncing the extradition.

[author]Story and photo Luis Feliu[/author]

Federal energy minister Martin Ferguson wants the Australian Federal Police and ASIO to target groups campaigning against coal and, by implication, coal-seam gas, Northern Rivers Guardians (NRG) spokesperson Michael McNamara said.

Mr McNamara has described the secret push for increased surveillance by federal police intelligence officers of environmental activists protesting peacefully at coal-fired power stations and coal export facilities as ‘ridiculous’.

Documents released recently under freedom of information laws confirm police are ‘continually monitoring anti-coalmining and other environmental groups with much of the intelligence collection carried out for the federal police by a private contractor.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Mr Ferguson, prompted by lobbying from energy companies, had urged stronger criminal penalties against protests that disrupt ‘critical energy infrastructure’.

‘Local groups likely to be the subject of AFP attention would have to include those hotbeds of environmental radicalism Tweed Shire Council, Rous Water and Northern Rivers Tourism since they have all taken a strong stand in relation to coal-seam gas mining,’ Mr McNamara said.

‘If it wasn’t so serious it would be laughable. Local community members who actively campaign in defence of their communities are not the enemy, they are the heart and soul of a healthy democracy,’ he said.

‘As an example, the farmers and other community members at Gloucester who recently held a blockade to stop AGL from commencing CSG exploration drilling are ordinary community members taking an extraordinary stand against vested interest running rampant over public interest.’

Greens leader Bob Brown said it was ‘intolerable that the federal Labor government is spying on conservation groups’ and wanting to ‘criminalise political protest’.

The documents from the minister’s department revealed that Mr Ferguson wrote to the then attorney-general, Robert McClelland, in September 2009 to raise concerns of ‘issues-motivated activism, and the possibility of disruptions to critical energy infrastructure sites’.

Mr Ferguson sought advice on whether intelligence gathering services of the federal police could be used to help the energy sector and police to ‘manage the increasing risk of disruptions’.

The documents show the energy security branch of Mr Ferguson’s department warned Macquarie Generation and Transgrid of a ‘peaceful mass action’ at Bayswater power station in the Hunter Valley in December 2010 where police arrested 73 protesters who had occupied a railway line used to take coal to the power station. Most of the convictions were overturned on appeal.

Image: Peaceful demonstrators such as these during Murwillumbah’s huge anti-coal-seam gas rally last year could be targeted by federal spying agencies and charged if such protests are deemed to disrupt ‘critical energy infrastructure’, such as coal-seam gas wells on the Northern Rivers.


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Autocracy or democracy for Byron Shire?

The New Yorker Magazine recently wrote a quote from Mr Rupert Murdoch ‘The truth is authoritarian governments do work!’ Hold that thought. It has been...

Criminalising protest

In another Sstate government descent into criminalising protest, to protect their own government’s sabotage of a liveable planet, last Thursday new laws were passed...

Mullum pods

First, Hans Lovejoy’s article ‘emergency wedged’ was educational, factual and provided valuable information to the community. Michele Grant’s letter (27 July) was emotive overgeneralisations...

Flood residents get $650 from Lismore Council

Lismore City Mayor Steve Krieg today announced that 1,558 residents will receive a grant of $650 from the Lismore Flood Appeal.