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July 13, 2024

Govt shouldn’t use police as private security: Greens

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Jeremy Buckingham at the Bentley Blockade.
Jeremy Buckingham at the Bentley Blockade.

The Greens have called on police minister Michael Gallacher to rule out the use of NSW police ‘as private security’ to move on people at the Bentley Blockade.

The party’s NSW mining spokesman Jeremy Buckingham also raised the issue of  links between members of the NSW Liberal and National parties and miner Metgasco.

The company has paused its plans to drill an exploratory well for tight sands gas at the Bentley site while it is blockaded around the clock by outraged residents.

‘The NSW Police Force should not be used as private security to allow a coal seam gas company to force its way into a community that has overwhelmingly rejected the presence of gas fields in the northern rivers,’ Mr Buckingham said yesterday.

‘We know pressure is mounting on the government to use the police to break the community blockade, but this pressure should be resisted.

‘The gas company needs to bring the community onside if it wants to drill, rather than use the NSW police to force its way in to the drill site.’

He went on to highlight known links between members of the Liberal and National parties and the company, adding that it would not look good for the government if it were perceived to be granting political favours.

‘While Stuart George – the son of local Lismore MP, Thomas George – is the community relations manager for Metgasco, and the former deputy director of the NSW Liberal Party – Richard Shields – was employed as a lobbyist for Metgasco, no special favours should be made because of these links,’ he said.

‘We know Metgasco has close ties to the O’Farrell/Baird governments, and this only reinforces the point that the NSW Police Force should not be used to do a favour for a private company,’ he added.

‘Up to 3,000 local people have converged on the drill site in recent weeks to blockade any attempt to move a drill rig into place.  There is no way the NSW police should be used to attempt to force heavy machinery through such a large crowd.  The Greens hold serious concerns for public safety if this is attempted.

‘The company is attempting to drill one exploration core hole.  It is totally impractical to think that the NSW police will be used as private security to drill the 500 gas wells that Metgasco has said they want to drill.  Metgasco must earn a social licence with the local community or simply pull up stumps and go home,’ Mr Buckingham said.

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  1. Since when has the police enforcing the rule of law been considered them being private security? This is no different to the police being called in to stops any riot / illegal acts.

    • ” police enforcing the rule of law”

      In reality, our political masters make sure that the police are there to back up power, wealth and privilege. Just ask rural communities why they often have no police officers available for call-outs, or country towns that operate without 24/7 police stations. Why do police bust rave parties but not business conferences? Why do naughty poor black boys end up in jail and naughty rich white boys end up as lobbyists? If I report the crime of mass animal cruelty in an intensive chicken farm I will be fobbed off to the RSPCA,an underfunded charity, but if I complain about the doping of a race-horse, there will an instant criminal investigation.

      How and when do the police “enforce the rule of law”? Follow the money trail.

  2. Thank you Jeremy Buckingham for publicly voicing the thoughts of the majority of the people of the Northern Rivers. CSG puts the health of land, air, water – and the people within our communities at risk. It is the role of the police to protect our communities, not the financial interests of unwelcome “public” companies.

    • Boring!!!! That’s the same rationale that every corrupt, undemocratic government uses to justify running roughshod over the will of the people.
      Try living in the middle of a gas field in South East Queensland and then see how you feel James.

  3. I have always been a National Party voter and have supported Thomas George, Don Page and Kevin Hogan in their various campaigns, but not any more! Not while they are pushing to fast track this industry on a community that has voted almost 90% against it here in the Northern Rivers. I am a 76 yr. old grandmother and live on a farm at Eltham. I had never slept in a tent prior to the Glenugie standoff, but now I have become a seasoned camper, both at Doubtful Creek and now at Bentley, along with my fellow Knitting Nannas Against Gas. We are here at the invitation of the land owner as he and his brother are vehemently opposed to this gas field being developed adjoining their property and it is a very well run, clean and orderly camp. I was pushed around by the Riot Squad at Glenugie! When I said I couldn’t move any faster in the crowd, I was dragged into the fast lane by a young policeman and I told him he should ashamed of himself! Our police should not be using force on peaceful non-violent protectors of beautiful farmland.

  4. Thanks for your comment, James Shaw. With respect, however, I think your comment derives from an overly simplistic perspective. Having worked in various government bureacracies for 20 years, I have some insights into the reasons for the claim made by The Greens.

    What you may not realise is that ANY decision to mount a large police operation is political in nature and reflects the underlying values that power-brokers (police commissioners, local police commands, bureaucrats, our elected representatives, etc) wish to promote and preserve. The police hierarchy could, for example, direct significantly greater resources away from current priorites and toward reduction of speeding, or to reducing incidences of elder abuse or alcohol-fuelled violence. A mass operation on the scale of that which is proposed for Bentley could also, for example, make significant in-roads into cleaning up corporate crime or political and bureaucratic corruption.

    The decision to direct significant policing resources toward making way for a small mining company to realise its unethical and unwanted – albeit lawful – agenda would be, in effect, a decision to direct the same amount of resources away from other (and potentially more virtuous) policing activities. These types of decisions, which relate to management of scarce resources (being, in this instance, police), are precisely the decisions that our political leaders and bureaucratic hierarchy are paid (through the public purse) to make.

    IF the decision is made to redirect policing resources to breaking the blockade at Bentley it will: (1) necessarily be at the expense of other policing priorities; (2) come at significant expense to the public purse, the scale of which expense is utterly disproportionate to the level of threat posed to the rule of law by the Bentley blockade; (3) reflect a perverse set of values which give higher priority to the right of a mining company to diminish or destroy this region’s clean air, water, and first-class amenity and a lesser priority to the right of current and future generations of Australians to enjoy the preservation of these things. This being the case, I think that a decision to send in the police could reasonably be characterised as the provision of private security at public expense.

    My preference, of course, would be to see the law changed in order to correct the balance, which current favours corporations over people. If this can’t be achieved in the immediate term, I think the police would do very well to direct their attention to matters more pressing than the Bentley blockade. POWER TO THE PEOPLE.

  5. James Shaw, since when has the protection of ground water been against the rule of law? The fact of the matter is that police are breaking the law, by protecting a company the government has granted contracts to, that is involved in a completely unnecessary industry proven to pollute this country’s most valuable resource, namely ground water. What the Police should be doing is arresting the corrupt politicians who have supported the coal seam gas industry and allowed it to gain a foothold in this country.

    Protection of ground water in this country is necessary for the security of this nation. Therefore any industry that may be polluting ground water must be seen as a threat to national security and any politician that supports it as being guilty of abuse of office and treason, and appropriate action should be immediately taken against them.

    This is not a debatable point as facts are simply facts.

  6. It time we as the broader community take a stand and join these heroes at Bentley, do some research on what is taking place in Dalby , Chinchilla and other parts of Queensland and you will be as shocked as I was. The severe health side effects that family living within close proximity to the Gas plants is damn scary. We definalely don’t want this activity going on our backyard. Keep the police out of this peaceful protest which is taking place lawfully, by considerate human beings.

  7. I agree with Christine, Jeremy Buckingham is voicing what the majority of people think in the Northern Rivers, most people where l live are not in favour of Fracking anywhere near the beautiful Northern Rivers destroying our rain forests, water, air , flora and fauna plus the people suffering with health problems.

  8. Mr Shaw,
    I dispute that the protestors are doing ‘illegal acts’. It is recognised in law that residents be allowed to protest. I for one will be there to protect the interests of the community.
    Approximately 90% of residents in the Lismore shire voted NO to CSG. Personnally, I have seen what CSG would mean for our beautiful Northern Rivers by visiting a friend who lives at Tara. We do not want an Industrial wasteland as is evident around Tara/ChinChilla.
    I believe enough in the Anti-CSG movement that I have taken Long Service Leave to give me time to passively protest for our rights.


  9. The NSW Police should not be used as private security for Metgasco. Especially because our state MP Thomas George is the father of a Metgasco Executive. ICAC that! Meanwhile the blockade is a cornucopia of good intent. If the police move in they will be flummoxed by the ingenuity of the peaceful protectors. Myself, I like the idea of a singing circle. We all have a duty to preserve life and protecting our land and water is paramount. I will show up and I know that thousands of community members will too. See you there on rig day. Peace, love and clean water.

  10. Ditto to all but one comment above. Just looking at the balance of comments for/against OUR police working to remove OUR democratic right to protest, even given the glaring absence of social license, it is very clear how this community views both Metgasco and this abuse of our region’s and nation’s resources, both mineral and human.

    How badly it will reflect on the government should real safety issues arise elsewhere, with no policing available, because our society’s paid protectors are otherwise engaged keeping the ‘extremists’ out of Metgasco’s path of destruction. Metgasco has no social license, and their toxic dirty work is not welcome here!

    “When injustice becomes the law, resistance becomes a duty” (Bertolt Brecht).


    James Shaw, It is our human/Common Law right to protest and protect our water alone, that’s without all the other detrimental impacts of this industry. So how are we illegal? Please do your research.

    The police are being used as security by protecting the development of this toxic industry, against the common wishes of the people.

    Apart from the detrimental health and environmental impacts the land values next to a gas mine will plummet and funders will not accept such land as security, only allowing sale to cash buyers, further reducing the land values in the area. Insurance next to a mine will be very difficult or expensive. Farms that have been developed through generations of hard work will be destroyed and those families left feeling helpless.
    Do you really still think the Police should be used to clear the way for Metgasco.


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