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Byron Shire
September 17, 2021

Firey protest at Bentley RFS station

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RFS volunteers from around the region yesterday protested at the use of the Bentley Fire Station as a police command centre during anti-gas protests. Photo David Lowe
RFS volunteers from around the region yesterday protested at the use of the Bentley Fire Station as a police command centre during anti-gas protests. Photo David Lowe

Rural Fire Service (RFS) members gathered at Bentley Fire Shed yesterday concerned that the wishes of locals are being overridden by the state.

The fireys from throughout the northern rivers have gathered to protest against the inappropriate use of the Bentley fire station.

Local RFS members in Bentley were recently overridden by the RFS hierarchy in a decision to th use of their station as a command centre for police posted to the region to dismantle the protest against the planned Metgasco exploratory mining operation at Bentley.

Volunteers across the north coast say they feel like they have lost their voice, with two members resigning and others threatening to follow suit.

‘We’re losing members over this, and we can’t afford to lose members,’ said RFS volunteer Paul Botting.

‘I would rather members protest than resign as I feel we provide an important service to the community,’ said concerned Larnook RFS member Glen Jones.

‘We are opposed to the use of the station for this purpose when it is there to protect the community and the land and we are opposed to the politicising of the RFS,’ said Jones. ‘And though we take this action reluctantly, we take it absolutely.’


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15 COMMENTS

  1. I mean how dare the police uphold the rule of law, implemented by a deomcratically elected government. If there were not so many people breaking the law the police presence wouldn’t be required and the RFS could have back their station.

    • I agree totally. A majority of an electorate clearly state that they don’t want something and then have the nerve to protest when their wishes are ignored. Don’t they even understand how democracy works? If there were not so many silly people thinking that their input is required in governance our glorious leaders could plow ahead unimpeded.

  2. Good on you all. You do such a wonderful brave job for our community out of love and kindness. There are no words to describe my distress about the RFS hierarchy expecting you to turn the other way while they support the police (who may also be being forced) action against the people who are protesting against the unwanted, dangerous, industry that Metgasco is trying to force on us.

    You rock!

  3. So, the local RFS members were overriden by the RFS heirarchy. Mmmm. There are a few questions to ask there. Wonder how that happened!!
    Were there discussions between Police, RFS heirarchy and Metgasco?
    Was Thomas George or the Richmond Valley Council involved?
    Did the RFS heirarchy get leaned on, and if so how?
    What were the detailed discussions between the local group and the heirarchy?
    Is this action in accordance with RFS policy, that the heirarchy can override local decisions at anytime, or is there a decision making process that respects the rights of local groups?

  4. Congratulations to the fireys for making a stand. It appears to be the only way that decent people get heard these days. Thank you also guys for your support of the wider issue at hand here. It’s simply wrong for the RFS to turn the depot over to the police.

  5. Thank you RFS Volunteers for standing up for your community. My understanding is that in fighting a fire it’s people, land and assets. The majority of the community feels this industry is a serious threat to community and it is inappropriate for more public resources are used to prop up a corporation against the will of the community. It’s only fair that if the RFS is going to let the local police use the shed to let the protectors use the shed as well. After all, the RFS is supposed to be outside of politics and if it allows the use of their facility for the protection of Metgasco then the RFS is no longer outside of politics and protecting a multi national company and not the local community. This would set a very alarming precedent and is one more step towards a police state and away from democracy.

  6. I feel so proud of the RFS volunteers from around the region on this photo. They make me feel so strong and proud of this community. They give me hope on humanity. Perhaps people on position of power could learn a bit about integrity.

    To see people in position of government power clear working for corporation rather protecting basic resources like water, for the present and future generations, is revolting and is not acceptable. I hope that the stand on Bentley will send the state government that, although they wish – this is not a military government yet. We are hungry for democracy and to be heard.

    How stupid is the police or who ever told then that they could use the Bentley Fire Station as a police command center during anti-gas protests as a base. Who do they think the volunteers are? from Sydney, no they live here and they will have their water contaminated as well.

  7. Good onya. We must remain outspoken against the CSG monster or our country will be ruined through absolute negligence to obvious environmental consequences already existing throughout the world.

  8. James, please explain exactly what laws are being broken? If this is a democratic process why is the industry being forced on a community where at least 87% of us don’t want it. (Your obviously in the 13%, or perhaps you don’t even live here). As Ghandi said, when laws are unjust, civil disobedience becomes duty. And by the way, in a democratic society the people of the land choose their government, not Rupert Murdoch.

  9. When I was inducted into the State Emergency Service, it was made clear that we strive to be regarded as entirely separate from the police or military to avoid being feared or mistrusted during emergencies as happens overseas. This trashes that principle. We are there to help only, not to enforce the law.

  10. All praise to the volunteer firemen who protect our region and all scorn to the RFS for politicising a service made up of volunteers, who only volunteer to protect their neighbours and their neighbour’s property, not appear to be supporting an industry which is likely to ruin their neighbours properties and lifestyle.

    Stand strong in your protest.

  11. Our admiration goes out to you RFS volunteers who took part in this action. Thank you for your willingness to stand up & be counted for the community in this issue. Many are not sufficiently brave, not wanting to make waves with “the authorities”. We are so proud of your courage: protecting the community & keeping us safe is what you do. Thank you all.
    Calling in large numbers of police from Sydney to assist Metgasco in their operation & preventing the community from lawful protest to stop them, is strange in a democracy. The State government are well aware that the majority of our community says NO but they are not listening.
    We the community employ the NSW Police Force to protect us from harm & theft of property. What greater harm could be threatened than this to our people’s health & to the health of our water, land & air? What greater theft but the devaluation of our homes & farms & livelihoods by industrialising our beautiful valleys & prime agricultural land?

  12. Respect! More local people having to make a stand to have the wishes of the community heard. Love your work, local RFS!!

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