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Byron Shire
April 15, 2021

Mining minister meets gas ‘extremists’

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NSW mining minister Anthony Roberts (right) responds to Lock the Gate's Ian Gaillard at an impromptu meeting in Casino yesterday. Photo Brendan Shoebridge
NSW mining minister Anthony Roberts (right) responds to Lock the Gate’s Ian Gaillard at an impromptu meeting in Casino yesterday. Photo Brendan Shoebridge

Chris Dobney

A day is a long time in state politics.

Yesterday afternoon, as his premier exited stage left, newly appointed mining minister Anthony Roberts met with a group of people who earlier in the day he had referred to as ‘extremists’.

Mr Roberts, who only recently replaced disgraced former minister Chris Hartcher, made the statement after meeting with staff of Metgasco, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis, the land and water commissioner and representatives of Richmond Valley, Lismore and Kyogle councils in Casino.

The meeting was to ‘discuss community concerns’ about unconventional gas mining, according to the minister’s spokesperson.

But when Mr Roberts emerged from the morning meeting he denounced protesters,  saying they had ‘continuously entered Mr Graham’s property illegally and caused deliberate damage’.

‘This includes chaining, padlocking and welding gates, and laying of barriers of concrete and metal spikes on driveways,’ he said.

Lock the Gate spokesperson Ian Gaillard told Echonetdaily that all the structures built by protectors were intended to be on the roadside verge ‘outside the fenceline’ but admitted that as there is no outside fence in places ‘it’s not completely clear’.

Mr Roberts went further, alleging ‘bullying, harassment and intimidation’.

‘Peter and his family, including his two seven-year-old children, should not have to put up with this behaviour day in and day out,’ he said, perhaps unaware of the fact that the Graham family does not live on the property.

‘They will achieve nothing by intimidating landholders, and the full force of the law will be brought to bear on those involved in illegal activity.

‘If people have an issue with gas operations in New South Wales they should take that up with the government rather than intimidate landholders and companies.’

After the morning meeting, and in front of TV cameras, Mr Gaillard asked Mr Roberts to allow the community to take up the issues with him, as he had just suggested.

And the minister agreed.

The meeting, which was hastily convened in the Grafton office of Clarence Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis, was cordial and amicable, according to Mr Gaillard.

There Mr Roberts and senator Scott McDonald were introduced to ‘extremists’ including: ‘Robert Lowry, who’s from a dairy farming family of 150 years; Ross Joseph, who is the former CEO of St Vincent’s Hospital, and his wife Rosemary; Peter and Meg Nielsen, who are beef farmers just up the road; Ken Curtis, who lives within two kilometres of the drill site, and Charlie Wilkinson, who is an immediate neighbour,’ Mr Gaillard said.

‘Most of the people who met with him today are grandparents, most of them have never done anything like this before and most of them are baffled as to why the government plans to send up to 400 police up here to assist this speculative mining company,’ he told Echonetdaily.

Minister Roberts told the group that the Liberal government ‘inherited the position of these gas licences from the last Labor government’.

In return the community representatives told the minister they were ‘seeking a political dialogue that goes well beyond the political cycle’, Mr Gaillard said.

‘We feel that our politicians [need to] think about our grandchildren. We don’t support the idea of a short political cycle, making decisions that will last forever – especially in regard to our water and land.’

He said that the minister ‘as a father of two young children… agreed with us but he kept on going back to the regulations’.

‘We hope we have made an impact with him. It remains to be seen.

‘It also remains to be seen what the makeup of the new NSW government is, and how they respond.

‘But we did ask him to, at the earliest available opportunity, seek to facilitate a meeting with the incoming premier,’ Mr Gaillard said.

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  1. Note the subtle insidious indoctrination of Society’s ‘attitudes’.
    Peaceful people being illegally damaged become smeared as “Anarchists” and “Extremists”
    If you happen to believe in the demonstrable laws of Physics, you become labelled a “911 Conspiracy Theorist”.
    Carbon copy run of how Hitler ‘nurtured’ the German People’s attitudes in the 1930’s. Disarm Citizens & keep them in a state of terror re False Flag Enemies, in order to justify setting up a Fascist State while everyone i distracted and insecure. Ho Hum.

  2. Not surprising, however very sad to see politicians very clear not listening to the community. If the “protectors” of our water our radicals, what do you call this government? Personally to pollute the land and water for a bit of gas is very radical and extremist. To use force to impose it is classic of a military government with out uniform.

  3. Disgraceful and cowardly lack of action by the Liberal and National Parties blaming the previously and obviously corrupt Labor Administration where really they support CSG and RAPE of the Land for the Profits of a very few greedy people certainly more than labor rank and file members do.
    The picture says it all: impeccably dressed and hair neatly parted, the Minister doesn’t dare look into the eyes of a heroic Australian who is protecting our land and water resources.
    These political puppets should MAN UP and act in the interests of the people and not a handful of ‘get rich quick’ speculators.

  4. I hope the protestor’s representative Mr Gaillard makes some sort of an impact on the minister, it has got to come to a head so or later, they are not listening to the people as usual, they can’t understand we just don’t want it in our area to ruin the land, water fauna and flora.

  5. Kudos to the Bentley “Protectors”. In a land where people cannot see, hear or feel, anyone with an opinion is an “extremist”.

  6. If I pollute the land, air and water I would be locked up …and rightly so. Something is seriously wrong with alegal system that rewards greed How can these politicians sleep without their

  7. So am I an “extremist” if I want to understand what the problem really is with CSG? I understand the need, but how is this weighed up against the risks? This is the debate that is missing here.

    • I sometimes wear a suit Shelley and I wear a tie to work 5 days a week but I am a Bentley Protector too. My family and I have lived in Bentley for nearly twenty years. I am doing whatever I can in a non-violent way to stop this invasive industry rolling out in our neighbourhood. As a community, we are so grateful for the efforts of all who come from further afield to Camp Liberty next to the proposed Rosella E01 gas well. The large community of Lismore, where I earn my livelihood, is 14km downstream from this operation. Lismore people are not imported “Green Extremists”. They are as “local” as the farmers and landholders living in Bentley. Why does the Honourable Minister for Resources not understand our concerns and our determination to protect our future?


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