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Byron Shire
March 6, 2021

Council misinformed public over Bentley mining camp

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Richmond Valley Council’s general manager, John Walker, seems to have misinformed the public about the details of Metgasco’s recently approved mining camp at Bentley.

Mr Walker has said on at least two occasions that he was ‘not aware of a bar being included in the application’ for Metgasco’s mining camp at Bentley.

Metgasco’s approval clearly indicates a ‘bar’ on the floor plan. This is despite no other reference to the bar within the consent documents, and no conditions either permitting or restricting the supply of alcohol in the approval.

At a private meeting with Mr Walker prior to the Council’s Tuesday meeting where I was in the public gallery with local landholder Ross Joseph, the general manager was again asked if there was a bar in the approved mining camp and he stated that it was ‘likely to have been copied and pasted from another application’.

In the absence of a condition prohibiting a bar, Metgasco will claim that a bar has been approved, despite the Council not having the legal authority to approve a liquor licence.

While Mr Walker admitted that ‘of course the workers could have a few beers at the end of the day’, the question is, how will alcohol be brought on to the site, and who pays for it?

This appears to be a de facto bar dodging the requirement for a liquor licence.

Given this stark regulatory failure, the public demands to know how thoroughly Mr Walker and council staff scrutinised Metgasco’s application? What other details may have been ‘cut and pasted’ or simply missed?

Alcohol consumption by workers is not compatible with safe industrial work standards and public safety. It also ignores the personal safety and security of the occupants of the nearby protectors’ camp, which voluntarily bans drugs and alcohol.

Is this a case of an impartial Council that listens to the community or one that simply does what it’s told by those with the money? No wonder ordinary people have lost trust in those who are meant to represent them.

(Metgasco’s mining camp approval is available on request or can be obtained from Richmond Valley Council or Metgasco.)

Dr Ros Irwin, former Lismore City Council mayor

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  1. The facts are that in both Ros Irwin’s private meeting and at the full Council meeting, John Walker was asked if there was a bar approved for Metgasco’s workers camp, and on both occasions he denied it.


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