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Byron Shire
May 18, 2021

Woman arrested at Glenugie protest

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Deb Whitley, dubbed The Hero of Glenugie by CSG activists for her brave action in chaining onto a Metgasco truck, pictured with Community Watch’s Philippe Dupuy at yesterday’s protest. Photo David Lowe

Chris Dobney

As temperatures rose yesterday so did activity against Metgasco’s CSG test site at Glenugie.

Police arrested local woman Deb Whitley, who locked onto a truck at the site in a bold show of defiance.

A clearly rattled Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson has described the protesters as ‘vigilantes’ and claimed on ABC radio this morning that one activist had issued a Metgasco employee with a death threat.

Up to 80 local residents and supporters from across the Clarence Valley gathered yesterday to defend the ‘embattled community’, according to Glenugie local, Sarah Fletcher.

‘Metgasco is trying to ride roughshod over the wishes of the local community. We do not want to see our beautiful home opened up for gas production.’

Police at the scene towed away one of the vehicles and ‘commenced negotiations to facilitate the works that are to take place,’ according to police media.

Fifty-five-year-old Glenugie resident Deb Whitley defended the self-described ‘radical action’ of chaining herself underneath the truck because of the fact that her land and home are under threat from coal-seam gas mining, which she has no say in refusing.

‘My home has always been the one constant in my life. It is my safety, my sanctuary – this industry threatens all of this,’ she said.

‘With my land I have choices to create an income and sustainable life for my future and now this is uncertain for me.

‘The coal-seam gas industry threatens our health and without good health we have nothing. I’ve always considered myself lucky but now I don’t know.’

Police rescue were brought in to remove her and she is expected to face charges for public order offences.

‘These exploration activities are one of the first steps in the potential wholesale gasfield industrialisation of the surrounding areas,’ said Lynette Eggins from Clarence Valley Alliance Against CSG.

‘Residents from across the Clarence Valley are standing together in a peaceful protest to make it clear to Metgasco and the government that we do not want this polluting industry in our region,’ she said.

But they will have a fight on their hands – police have indicated they are prepared to take sides with Metgasco, which in turn is not backing down.

Duty officer from Coffs/Clarence Local Area Command, Inspector Joanne Reid, said, ‘police are there to facilitate a peaceful protest, but must also enforce the law’.

‘The large majority of protesters operate within the confines of the law, and we would urge all the protesters to exercise common sense and do the same.

‘When our directions are repeatedly ignored we have no option but to take action,’ Inspector Reid said.

Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson this morning accused the group of undertaking ‘extreme measures’.

‘These people do have a choice. The government’s not ignoring them, nor is Metgasco. We’ve been through very thorough review processes and approvals and can demonstrate our business is safe, and that’s why Minister Hazzard is in the area today,’ he told ABC radio this morning.

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  1. May the fleas of a thousand camels invade the crutch of each CSG owner, manager and operator; and may their arms be too short to scratch. They are nasty little beasts.

  2. When the community’s concerns are repeatedly ignored we have no option but to take action. This is not extreme. Extreme is when governments do not represent the people who elected them and side instead with corporations who want to export our resources to foreign lands at our expense. We have written numerous submissions, spoken at enquiries, made phone calls, attended rallies, written letters and more. We have very good reasons to oppose this industry.

  3. An astoundingly successful morning in Lismore when approx 1000 anti-Coal Seam Gas citizens attended an ‘info sharing’ session’ from NSW State Minister for Planning Brad Hazzard with a panel of his handpicked quissling department scientists. The police stated that they acknowledged the right of expression and asked us to show due respect, i.e. to listen and not behave abusively. From the moment of his arrival Hazzard was booed, and every one of his panel of six was derided. The police could have overpowered and arrested individual hecklers, but the expressions of opposition came from all 1000, and Hazzard had to change from a ‘man of authority’ to following the mood. The tsunami of protest from both Indigenous and Whites quickly showed that we were not going to shut up or go away. Therefore what was intended to be a presentation of superficial window dressing by Hazzard’s advisers, (with a q and a session at the end) turned immediately into our challenges and questions and derision of their feeble answers from the very start. The police understood this and behaved wisely. They could not haul out 1000 people inc. the elderly and children. What impressed me the most was the fact that amidst us were so many highly qualified scientists (environment, health, geology, engineering, bio-chemistry etc) who out-qualified Hazzard’s panel of scientists and advisers. It was 2 solid hours of vocal solidarity, fellowship, rhythmic beating with nulla nullas (short thick heavy Aboriginal batons), and derision, that one could say without exaggeration that the minister and his cronies were “run out of town”. It is difficult to understand that in this supposed democracy, the government can turn it so swiftly into a dictatorship on behalf of the mining corporations, and people like Deb Whitley are pressured into being powerless as the machines and drills and poison infiltrates her home. We are with you Deb! And as long as we remain united (87% against the Mega Plunderers in the region) you are not alone. The more evidence of colossal opposition the more the value of the shares in the CSG mega-thieves will plummet. I think I’m right in saying that Metgasco shares have already fallen from$1.24 per share to 17 cents! YES!

  4. So the protestors are “vigilantes” according to Metasco’s Peter Henderson? If vigilante means being vigilant to the environmental and social threats that the CSG mob want to expose the community to, then let’s wear the tag like a badge of honour!

    Henderson and Metgasco and the State Govt need to understand that the community is united against their greed induced grab for resources and a socially cohesive community.

    If this level of protest has rattled Mr Henderson then he ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

    I’m amazed that Mr Henderson really seems to believe that he can prove his industry is safe. Unfortunately the science doesn’t stack up.


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