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Byron Shire
April 22, 2021

The clocks tick louder at the Bentley blockade

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Early morning, Gate A, Bentley Blockade. Photo Marie Cameron
Early morning, Gate A, Bentley Blockade. Photo Marie Cameron

Marie Cameron, onsite at the Bentley Blockade

Gone is the grass from Metgasco’s Rosella entrance.  Overhead are two monopoles and two tripods with interactive lines. On the ground you can barely walk between the many time-delay installations.

All are lock-on devices to provide ‘simmos’ with a multiple of choices to thread their arms into locking points. Some are booby-trapped with underground dragons.

The latest to arrive at Gate A is a red Toyota. With ‘Know Hope’ painted on its windscreen it’s set to go the distance and drive Metgasco mad.

With Metgasco’s share price in the poor box and its mine site under a 3,000-strong protest, the car mirrors Metgasco; derailed, worthless and going nowhere.

Locked-on Toyota at Rosella well Gate A. Photo Marie Cameron
Locked-on Toyota at Rosella well Gate A. Photo Marie Cameron

The use of cars as a lock-on and dragon device is not a new blockade stunt. Metgasco is well aware of their use.

At the Glenugie blockade the fiery Traumatron crashed the gates to hold centre stage for nine hours.

That car contained the dragon of all dragons; made from layers of intricate and interconnected locks it made a massive barrier. Locked in its centre was Lismore artist, Rodney Sharpe.

At the Doubtful Creek blockade the old family Ford dubbed the Githabul Growler was locked across the Eden Creek State Forest gateway for weeks.

On its final day of existence four simmos locked on and held Metgasco at bay for seven hours.

Bad health effects confirmed

Tuesday’s morning dawn crowd saw Dr Geralyn McCarron in its midst.

It was her second visit to Bentley. This Brisbane-based family physician is the author of the 2013 report Symptomatology of a Gas Field. An independent health survey in the Tara rural residential estates and environs.

Dr McCarron enjoyed looking over the gas-well-free hills of Bentley. When she spoke of a life lived in the Tara CSG industrial zone her eyes clouded with concern.

‘Most people in the community are sick. It depends on how many wells are flaring, who’s drilling wells, which way the wind is blowing, what the processing plant is releasing, the holding ponds and the road sprays. There are many variables,’ Dr McCarron said.

Dr Geralyn McCarron visits the Bentley Blockade to warn about the health effects of living in a gasfield that she has observed in Tara. Photo Marie Cameron
Dr Geralyn McCarron visits the Bentley Blockade to warn about the health effects of living in a gasfield that she has observed in Tara. Photo Marie Cameron

‘The mental focus is one of the first things to be affected. You’re just so tired you can’t think and there are many reasons.

‘Extreme worry, everything you own is violated, you can’t sleep there is so much stuff going on. The kids are sick!

‘Co-existence is not a viable option. You can’t live in a gas processing plant. It’s an extreme industrial zone!

‘You don’t have babies living in a processing plant. When you try to mix them you don’t get a good outcome,’ said Dr McCarron.

‘CSG-related health complaints include eye irritations, nosebleeds, headaches, coughs, respiratory problems, skin irritation, muscle pain, numbness, fatigue and sore joints and the list goes on.

‘The problem faced by every person living in a gas field is debilitation. People don’t have the energy to fight the government and gain support or recognition.

‘The Queensland government did not make a baseline health study and now the onus is on the person to prove they’re affected by CSG.

‘I have to find an indisputable link. The only protection is not to allow it to happen. If you have any doubt take a trip to Tara. Communities have fallen by the wayside.

‘When you cannot live and breathe you need to walk away but when you live there, you can’t,’ she said.

With the gas zones of Tara on her mind, Dr McCarron looked across the blockade.

‘The difference,’ she said ‘is here democracy is actually happening! People aren’t just voting; they are taking an interactive part in what is happening.’

The people in Brisbane are ‘oblivious’.

The battle of  Gate C

The blockade has completed three months and Metgasco has yet to get a portaloo across the line. Metgasco has two choices. It could repeat history and declare political instability as a reason to exit gracefully or it could push ahead.

Either way the waiting game reached a new level when the blockade clock ticked louder on Wednesday. Some Richmond Valley Council workers made an appearance at Gate A. With the camp still holding record numbers, people are watching any council movements very closely.

The vigil at Gate C of the Bentley Blockade on Naughtons Gap Road. Photo Marie Cameron
The vigil at Gate C of the Bentley Blockade on Naughtons Gap Road. Photo Marie Cameron

Gate B has a dedicated crew of organised protectors ready to give Metgasco their best efforts.

Gate C has an unusual history.

Last week saw Ian Gaillard tell protectors to clear the gate as Lock the Gate had a clear understanding with Metgasco they would not enter through Gate C.

Protectors were reluctant to leave as they could see how police could use the gate for their entry. Gate C is placed on the Bentley Road and is almost opposite Naughtons Gap Road. It is easy to access from both roads so protectors kept re-establishing the block.

To support their efforts they built a vigil camp on the high ground across the road. The police arrived toward the end of the week to protect the council workers who were there to clear the gate. Protectors were warned by the police to stay out of the way or be arrested.

Regardless, Gate C has been rebuilt and the vigil camp has gained more stayers. It would seem Gate C is the new Bentley Blockade frontline.

Doug Keogh from Kyogle was observing from the side of the road.

Doug has eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. His father had fought in World War II, his son was in the air force, and his daughter had seen action in Afghanistan in the Australian army.

‘Now we’ve got this,’ he said. ‘We have been taken over without a shot fired.

‘I’ve seen good and I’ve seen bad and in my opinion this is bad.

‘They’re going to make good people into criminals.’

'They're going to make good people into criminals': Doug Keogh from Kyogle survey's Metgasco's site. Photo Marie Cameron
‘They’re going to make good people into criminals’: Doug Keogh from Kyogle surveys Metgasco’s site. Photo Marie Cameron

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  1. If the police uses massive force just to uphold a license granted by a corrupt state Government, then Australia is well on the way to a totalitarian state. Watch the beginnings!

    • Australia has been and continues to be a parliamentary dictatorship. When a parliament can simply re-write a law to overcome an adverse judicial finding, its a parliamentary dictatorship. When politicians can say stuff in parliament that I can not say in public because of defamation it is another example of said dictatorship. That Oz is a democracy is a nice label pollies like to promote because we like that self image of our society but the reality is something else all together

    • my only question is to the police/government local who live here and anyone related to important decision making. Regardless of your position or state of affairs … you are indirectly supporting this by being apart of crowd control…it begs the question where DO governments and the law REALLY sit … 160 y generation children all off their face on speed, coc, alcohol, ice and ekky. nothing was done on australia day – a party that went for 52 hrs straight…. where is the justice, the real tangible law and old school ethics of australian decency. .. as human beings – not because its ‘our job to be human’/////

  2. Governments State and Federal. Listen up. Good caring law abiding citizens are going to be turned into so called criminals. No CSG. Get it. MO CSG.

  3. There is something quite wrong with our political system…….
    How can a group of politicians who come into power temporarily, be given the mandate to make decisions that affect all australians in the long term. How dare they sell off the long-term security of our water resources to chinese (& other foreign) interests, for short term profit. If there is any risk of water contamination by CSG, then it it too big a risk. Contamination has already occurred in sites in Australia and in America. Who is going to be personally responsible for this 10 years down the line when these politicians are retired and out of the spotlight? Noone.
    The people who are against CSG are many…. certainly if a referendum was taken – in local areas and across the country, the opposition would be clear. The people who are protesting represent just a small section of those who oppose this mining. And they are not extremists by any means…… they are teachers, doctors, farmers, landowners, mothers, children, grandmothers, tradesmen, businessmen……… Who is looking after our interests? And if our government is not – how do we get things right again?
    There are plenty of better ways of raising state revenue….. there are some dodgy deals going on australians! beware!


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