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Byron Shire
March 3, 2021

International court challenge over CSG mining

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Hans Lovejoy

Githabul Indigenous people living around Kyogle are planning a legal challenge in an international court if necessary against their own to dissolve the Githabul Nation Aboriginal Corporation (GNAC), which they say approved mining on their country without their consent or approval.

It comes as a peace camp is being assembled in response to planned coal-seam gas mining just west of Kyogle, near the towns of Ettrick and Doubtful Creek.

Githabul elder Gloria Williams told Echonetdaily, ‘GNAC is now dead to us. They do not speak for the tribe or have consent. Proper consultation with tribes did not happen. We now know that it is all about mining.’

Echonetdaily understands that representatives of ten Githabul families signed off on mining through native title yet broke agreements regarding updates and contact with the rest of the tribe.

Gunham Badi Jakamarra, who is representing the Githabuls, told Echonetdaily that despite the government being advised in writing that the tribe no longer recognise GNAC, they have yet to hear a response.

‘We are looking at going to the European courts and international courts, as the high courts here have interest in protecting the Crown.

‘We need to be heard impartially. Australians wishing to protect their land and families [from CSG mining] can’t rely to the Crown to do that. They are only interested in the dollar.

‘The only way this can stop is to stand in solidarity with the Indigenous people.’

Doubtful Creek protest

Dean Draper is neighbour to a planned drilling site on Dunns Road, Doubtful Creek, and told Echonetdaily that infrastructure is currently being built on his property to accommodate an anticipated long protest.

He says mining company Metgasco plans to start drilling three wells within a fortnight on private property throughout the region. ‘Metgasco drilling rigs are sitting at the offices in Casino,’ he said. ‘The exploration licences are for Banyabba (halfway to Grafton and Casino), Glenugie (near Grafton) and next door to me.’

He says that despite no production licence, exploration wells have been in operation for ‘three to four years’ 18km from Kyogle at Dobies Bight.

‘Given the size of the pipelines needed, either to Ballina and Evans Head or through the Border Ranges, we calculated they will require around 2000 gas wells.’

Mr Draper says his neighbour, whose property is around 1200 acres, hasn’t got all the facts on CSG. ‘He seems to think this is about energy security when in fact it’s about exporting it as a cheap export.

‘He told me he intends to put even more rigs on his property.

‘I have had enormous support from people in the area and beyond. Around 60 locals attended a non-violent training session recently, and a CSG-Free survey in the area here found that from 500 people, 90 per cent didn’t want it.

‘Kyogle Council, after the recent election, have also re-affirmed their opposition as well.’

Echonetdaily could not get a response from GNAC or Metgasco by time of going to press.

Glenugie update

John Edwards from the Clarence Environment Centre told Echonetdaily he just returned from the protest camp at Glenugie near Grafton after delivering water to protesters.

‘Some of the protesters have been there for the entire seven weeks, he says. ‘Metgasco say they plan to go back and work there after January 3, and made a decision to back off over Christmas. My gut feeling is the riot squad will be brought in to assist the trucks entering.’

When asked about the owner of the land that Metgasco plan to drill on, he said, ‘He’s considered a pariah by many. But he’s elderly and not a well man.

‘No-one around him wants this happening. It’s wrong on every level.’

As for the remuneration the mining companies pay landowners, he said, ‘Nobody seems to know how much a well is worth to a landowner; there are confidentiality contracts. My understanding is that the general going rate is $3000–5000.’

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