A Lismore teenager says she has no regrets about sending a hoax email this week falsely announcing CSG miner Metgasco was shutting down its Bentley project and abandoning plans to drill for gas in the northern rivers.
Sixteen-year-old Trinity College student Kudra Falla-Ricketts made headlines around Australia this week with her April Fool’s Day prank, but the incident was referred to the corporate regulator by Metgasco, which didn’t see the email as a joke.
Kudra was hauled into her school principal’s office when it was learnt she had emailed the document bearing the Metgasco letterhead to local journalists using her school email address.
She said this morning that she’d been in contact with Metgasco lawyers who said they would take no further action if she promised not to ‘do it again’ and to email all those she sent the document to to let them know it was all ‘an April fools joke not intended to be taken seriously by anyone’.
But Kudra, the daughter of SCU lecturer Aidan Ricketts, said she had no regrets about the prank, as most people in the northern rivers did not want Metgasco to start drilling anywhere in the region, and the company and government were not listening.
She said she didn’t think anyone would believe it and would instead take it for what it was, an April Fool’s Day joke similar to false reports on various issues which featured in newspapers everywhere on the day.
It seems many agree with her too, with scores of people writing to newspapers and blogs around the country to support Kudra and her action.
The email followed a rally on Monday morning at which around 2,000 people turned up at Bentley in a huge sign of force against Metgasco’s drilling plans for the area.
The prank was reminiscent of one used by Jonathan Moylan, who is being prosecuted by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) for sending a fake media release last year which is claimed to have temporarily wiped off $314 million off Whitehaven Coal’s share value.
Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson however was not amused by Kudra’s hoax email, saying it could have had a ‘devastating’ effect on the company’s share value.
In the email, Metgasco announces it wants to make a fresh start with north coast communities and would therefore withdraw all operations from Bentley and the northern rivers.
It also went on to offer to be a partner in the region’s alternative energy plans.
‘We are proposing instead to engage in wide-raging [sic] community consultation to gain support for the construction of a baseload solar-thermal plant near Casino that will provide sustainable power to Richmond Dairies and other local industries and will add to the northern rivers’ reputation as a clean and green region focused upon sustainability and clean agriculture,’ it read.
Mr Henderson admitted the hoax did no harm, claiming it was only because Metgasco reported the hoax to the Australia Securities Exchange before trading opened for the day.
An Echonetdaily blogger said ‘Kudra’s email outlines the wishes of the majority of the community that lives here’.
Another blogger said Kudra ‘should be knighted’.
‘There is no social license and it should be deemed criminal to start an activity that is proven to contaminate ground water with toxic chemicals, cause harm to human health and will negatively impact most other businesses and industries including our farming communities,’ another wrote.