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Byron Shire
June 7, 2023

Githabul CSG protester arrested on tribal land

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That was then… the picnic atmosphere at Doubtful Creek protest site on Sunday. 

Chris Dobney and staff reporters

State Forests personnel arrived at Metgasco’s next planned coal-seam gas test-drilling site at Doubtful Creek yesterday and police arrived at 6.30 this morning to smooth the arrival of the company’s drill rig from Glenugie.

Githabul tribal people and other protesters have been moved off adjacent land in Edens Creek Forest, despite the fact that it was handed back to them in 2007 under native title (indigenous land use agreement).

Indigenous people refused to move off their land and one was arrested, according to protester Iris Ray Nunn.

‘He is refusing bail conditions and will probably be held in police custody overnight,’ she told Echonetdaily this morning.

An estimated 30 personnel including 20 police are onsite this morning, Ms Nunn said, with around 25 protesters in attendance.

The state forest where protesters had been camping was closed yesterday afternoon and campers were given until 8pm to move out.

‘They said wanted to spray Zero on the weeds,’ Ms Nunn said.

The group refused and 20 police arrived 6.30am with chief inspector from Ballina.

‘Campers are relocating nearby and maintaining a vigil on the road verge outside the forest,’ she said

‘The access road has been leased to Metgasco and there is forest on either side of the access road. The road leads right to the drill pad, which is on privately owned property. The drill pad is in now. Police moved contractors in this morning to do work on the drill pad.’

CSG Free Northern Rivers believes Metgasco will try to bring in its rig from the Glenugie site on Thursday after undertaking further site preparation.

‘Daily trucks and Metgasco vehicles are likely,’ according to one Facebook post.

‘Fencing contractors and workers are through… Numbers needed every day ongoing. United we stand, Protecting Country, Our Land, Our Water, Our Air,’ it reads.

Picnic over

The atmosphere is very different from that of just two days ago, when protesters held a picnic on the site.

The 200-odd picnickers on Sunday included local farmers, Githabul traditional owners, and Kyogle residents, as well as friends from across the northern rivers, enjoy a barbecue, speakers and music as the local community prepares to defend their land from Metgasco’s planned CSG exploration operations.

Thousands of people recently took part in a survey in the Kyogle LGA area, including Doubtful Creek, with more than 92 per cent declaring that they want their land and roads to be CSG free.

‘The large gathering of these determined people here shows that this toxic industry is being forced on us; local people do not want it,’ said local resident Dean Draper.

‘The local farmers and residents want nothing to do with any industry that has the capacity to poison their land, water and air. We want to protect the health of our children, of our families.

‘My neighbours are coming together and discovering their common interest, which includes the preservation of their land, community, land values and lifestyles.

‘We want to protect jobs in the rural industry, tourism and many others that would be negatively affected if coal-seam gas mining were allowed to spoil this place,’ he said.

Sydney protest

Meanwhile, a group of concerned northern rivers residents have taken their concerns to Macquarie Street, warning Sydneysiders that they can expect the riot squad on their doorstep if CSG wells are planned for their area.

They include Ian Gaillard, co-ordinator of CSG Free Northern Rivers, Lyndy Moss, a tea-tree and beef farmer from Glenugie, and Dr Marion Lloyd-Smith, who is a chemical regulatory expert with the National Toxics Network.

The group is calling on the NSW government to listen to the United Nations Environment Program, which recently stated, ‘… Unconventional gas production has the potential to generate considerable greenhouse gas emissions, can strain water resources, result in water contamination, may have negative impacts on public health (through air and soil contaminants; noise pollution), on biodiversity (through land clearance), food supply (through competition for land and water resources), as well as on soil (pollution, crusting).’

Ms Moss added that the use of the riot squad ‘is clearly not acceptable and has left local residents bruised and shocked and 25 arrested’.

‘I am really worried about the future of Australia when the government seems intent on riding roughshod over genuine community concern.’

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  1. It is extremely sad to see our country being raped by these corporate interests at the whim of government. And it is very disturbing to see our police, those we appointed as the protectors of society, acting against those peaceful inhabitants of this country who are concerned enough to make a stand. This corporate madness has to stop. Enough is enough. If what these uniformed thugs are doing is simply to be classed as police in the performance of duty then we a serious re-evaluation of the role of police in our society because at present, their main objective seems to be to prevent anyone from interfering with the destruction of our country. One must ask, don’t they have families? Don’t they have to live here too? If so then why are they working to ensure our arable lands will become uninhabitable. It is truly time to put a stop to this insanity and to hold our elected officials (public trustees) accountable for their actions and rein this government into line. If we fail in this task or choose to simply ignore these activities the cost we be the future of our children.

    • Dear Max, I hear your shock and indignation when you observe the performance of the police in doing their “duty”. I agree with you that it seems incredulous that we pay our taxes to support actions which lead to the destruction of our country and our children’s birthright. However I also see that the police are unlikely to rise as a body and refuse to carry out the orders they are handed by their superiors, because they also have families and want to keep their jobs to support them. The origin of these orders is of course the responsible ministers in government and this is where to focus if we want change.

      We need politicians who will stand up to the bullying tactics of the mining companies and the USA. We need to persuade people that working for or supporting these companies in any way is shameful and against their own best interests, and we need to persuade politicians that we value health and children more than the almighty dollar.

  2. What sad days these are, when Government, Police and even the local Fire Brigade all stand ready to support overseas industry, big profit for a few and the degradation of farming soil, depletion of water and pollution that will affect us all for generations to come.
    While Police are protecting big business, who is protecting the people?
    When Government serves industry, who is looking after us?
    Its a sad, sad day for Australia and it’s people

  3. Ditto! Sadly, even some of the uniformed ones, our own Police force (NOT the thugs),are also saddened by what is happening. They do have families, or intend to, and don’t agree with what is happening to their land and community. And now we find the Fire folk getting involved, too, cooking up a storm for their uniformed mates, despite many of their own now needing to jump ship over the aiding and abetting of this monstrosity; goodwill is surely at risk, and that is a very sorry and dangerous situation.

    Those in government, at all levels, really need to step up, because when the proverbial hits the fan, and it will and it is, someone is going to be held responsible. Our “Representatives” need to take a personal stance against this madness…. Where are you all? Where is the love for country and countryfolk that one would like to assume you might harbour (though sadly cannot witness through your actions, or inaction)? Public servants acting against the wishes of the vast majority of their fellow Australians and against the security of this nation’s future health and wellbeing are not fulfilling their job duties, but rather seemingly ride roughshod as mercenaries at the beck and call of the corporate monster.

    There has not often been a cause more worthy of downing tools against. Come on people… Please stand up and be counted before the nightmare that already haunts your fellow Australians daily becomes your own reality. Your fellow countryfolk really will thank you for it, just as they will remember those who allowed this nightmare to unfold.


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