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Byron Shire
March 3, 2021

Activists target Metgasco investors

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Threatened with legal action: Gasfield Free Northern Rivers' Michael Qualmann
Threatened with legal action: Gasfield Free Northern Rivers’ Michael Qualmann

There’s a new approach by activists battling against the planned natural gas industry expansion in the region: a number of Metgasco’s largest shareholders have been sent a letter advising them about the size and effectiveness of the social movement that opposes its operations.

It comes as protesters gear up for a fight against proposed drilling operations at Bentley, near Lismore.

Michael Qualmann, on behalf of Gasfield Free Northern Rivers, sent the letters last week saying that Metgasco had been understating the scale of public opposition and that the regional community was well organised and had undertaken training in non-violent direct action.

Awareness campaign

Mr Qualmann says Byron Bay resident John Vaughan, whose super fund is listed in Metgasco’s 2013 annual return as its eighth largest shareholder, contacted Mr Qualmann after the letter was sent and told him that he may lose his home in litigation.

‘I don’t know why anyone would consider this litigious,’ Mr Qualmann told Echonetdaily, ‘I’m actually doing the shareholders a service by providing them with information about risks to their investment that they may not be aware of’.

He also referred to the 87 per cent who voted against gasfield developments in the Lismore poll and that over 119 communities had declared themselves gasfield free by margins over 90 per cent and were prepared to fight to prevent gasfield establishment.

Both Mr Vaughan and CEO of Metgasco, Peter Henderson, declined to comment to Echonetdaily.

About Metgasco

According to its 2013 annual report, Metgasco holds 100 per cent interest in three petroleum exploration licences (PELs) covering approximately 4,556km2 in the Clarence Morton Basin (CMB) in northern NSW.

‘In March 2013 Metgasco made the decision to suspend its field operations in the CMB,’ the report said.

‘It was in response to the announcement of proposed new and unexpected NSW government regulations. Field operations will recommence when the regulatory and business environment is suitable. In the meantime the company is reviewing energy investment opportunities in areas outside NSW.’

As for likely developments and likely results, Metgasco fails to mention community opposition and instead says, ‘Metgasco has an active community engagement program underway in the Casino area and is reviewing energy opportunities in states outside NSW’.

No dividends have been paid or declared since the end of the previous year and no dividends have been recommended by the directors in respect to the year ended June 30, 2013.

Metgasco’s managing director Peter Henderson earned $458,598 last financial year, including shares.

There are no women represented on the board or in senior executive positions, but they do make up 11 per cent of the entire organisation.

The largest shareholders include ERM Power Ltd (total 12.65 per cent of shares), Daleford Way Pty Ltd (1.91 per cent), HSBC (Aust), Citicorp, Kalsie Holdings Pty Ltd, Fast Freeze International Ltd, Dansar Pty Ltd (J&A Vaughan Super Fund A/C) at 1.15 per cent or 5,212,774 shares held), Mr David Johnson, Mr Peter Stanmore, Magnim Pty Ltd, Litwick Enterprises, Mr Sin Mong Wong & Ms Seng Bee Teoh, Sharon Hooper, Mr James Gardiner, Ms Glenda McLoughlin, Mr Peter Henderson, Maxa, St Baker Investments.

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  1. I applaud your efforts and wish you well. It is very clear that the vast majority of people in the Clarence and Tweed valleys do not want CSG mining, regulated or otherwise. Lock the gate!

  2. Thank you Michael. Great work. Also, shareholders, and the public, need to be aware of the fact that the US coal barons the Koch bothers (with links to the in Australia to the LNP, the Institute of Public Affairs, and the Mt Pelerin Society) are funding climate change denial, in action on climate change and are undermining the progression of renewable energy. If more shareholders understood that they are investing against their own interests, the appeal of investing in mining companies may fade…very quickly.

  3. Thanks for the article. I didn’t know HSBC was a shareholder. Shareholders should be made aware of the risks when investing in projects. Mike just supplied accurate information so shareholders could make informed decisions. I think I’ll write these people and ask if they are going to really go after Mike for being honest to them about all of us that are opposed to unconventional gas mining or Natural gas mining as they are trying to gloss it over now with.

  4. If I was a Metgasco investor I’d be [asking questions of] their Directors. [Have investors got all the facts?] There are still investors who believe that we Northern Rivers residents want them here; that the opposition are all feral unwashed hippies; that only 2000 people voted against them at the Lismore Council poll; that they would bring jobs and prosperity and roads lined in gold to our (to them) good for nothing community.

    There’s a shareholder forum called Hot Copper with a Metgasco thread (MEL) where the moderator has [not always accepted posts from] local people who post relevant news articles which would have let some of those investors know the extent of the fight they’re up against. Michael’s action was wonderful and I’m sure the lawyers in our midst would be only too happy to give him a bit of a hand in return. If only we could get the full list of shareholders contact details and send all the relevant information to them.

    Thanks so much Michael, this was a great first move. Well done.

  5. Well done Michael. Litigation over this letter? Pfffffft. Some people can’t see any issues past the size of their bank balance.

  6. I think I will buy shares in Metgasco. Looks like they have a lot of potential. Fortunately corporations and individuals are protected by Australian law from wannabees like Michael.

    • That may be the case, Martin, and many are conscious-less beings, but, you know, every single time an article like that is published, a handful of people, real people, investors or otherwise, hear more about this rank industry, and the corruption and greed that is fuelling it, and just maybe, some of those feel a greater love for their environment, or their children, and their children’s children than a lust for power and money.

      The number of conscious people that oppose this industry is growing, and nothing Metgasco’s mouthpiece and financial pushers come up with can reverse that simple fact.

  7. Michael runs a business that recommends the use of LNG to heat commercial swimming pools. Michaels business pages contain anti-csg material illustrated by a scary picture of a drilling rig flare that is presented as a CSG rig. It looks like no CSG rig I have ever seen, its more likely a conventional rig well testing in the PNG highlands. I’ve learned not to believe everything I read.

  8. Only recently bought shares and received an unsigned letter. Gather the activists have a recent copy of the share list. Didn’t Mr Vaughan send out a recent letter to shareholders re trying to spill the board before the last AGM? Did he have a copy of the shareholder list too?

  9. I understood that Mr Vaughan sent letters out to all the Metgasco shareholders prior to the attempted board spill. If that’s true, I’m curious about how Mr Vaughan got access to the shareholders’ private information?


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