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Byron Shire
May 14, 2021

Bentley farmers’ delegation visits parliament

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NSW MLCs Jan Barham, right, and Jeremy Buckingham, with Bentley farmers?? and ?? in Parliament House last week. Photo supplied
NSW Greens MLCs Jan Barham, right, and Jeremy Buckingham, with Bentley locals Meg Nielsen, second left, and Rosemary Joseph in Parliament House last week. Photo supplied

Hans Lovejoy

Last week saw further chaos in NSW parliament as disreputable politicians either resigned or ignored their code of conduct over bribes, slush funds and donation disclosures.

But despite the low political ebb, a group of Bentley residents travelled to Sydney in the hope of speaking to politicians about their concerns over unconventional gas exploration in their area.

Former Byron Shire mayor and now upper house MLC, Jan Barham (Greens), told Echonetdaily, ‘I was very pleased to be able to assist the delegation while they were in the parliament and encourage other MPs to hear the locals’ fears about their future if Metgasco proceeds.

‘The Christian Democrats and Robert Borsack from the Shooters and Fishers Party did meet with the Bentley delegation and respectfully heard their side of the story,’ Ms Barham said.

‘Many ALP and Coalition members also met with the Bentley farmers, but It was extremely disappointing that the premier did not take the time to sit down and listen to the concerned citizens of Bentley.’

Ms Barham said that many MPs raised questions and spoke about the Bentley blockade and the use of police against the protectors.

‘The new premier is now aware of the broad community opposition to CSG on the north coast and the requests for him to review the situation,’ she said.

‘The government is claiming that the Metgasco’s Bentley operation is a lawful, low key project that should be allowed to proceed and that the blockade is unlawful.

‘But many people have concerns that the Bentley exploration approval is the Trojan horse of industrial scale gas production for the north coast.

‘The community are savvy enough to realise that it’s crucial to stop this now, so that the sustainable future that locals want is possible.

‘As I raised in an adjournment speech last week, Mr Baird’s inaugural speech in 2007 stated that he expected the Liberal Party to lead the restoration of a community-based party in this place.

‘He said at the time: “We should never be ashamed of listening to our conscience nor to our community—in essence this is why we are here”.

‘Premier Baird should listen to the community and reverse the licence approval and call off the police intervention on a peaceful, democratic response to an unwanted industrialisation of the north coast.

‘This issue will be a test for the new premier and the government and will impact on next years election.’


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3 COMMENTS

  1. Premier Baird, in refusing to meet with the delegation of farmers, has just demonstrated very clearly, and very early on in his term as Premier, just how indifferent he is to meeting his pledge to end corruption. This industry’s incursion into our most valuable agricultural land was enabled by corruption. All licences should therefore be revoked. The people understand that, and if our politicians can’t grasp that simple truth one must conclude that they are incapable of acting in the best interest of this nation, and therefore do not merit tenure.

    Just how does the deployment of 800 police to a peaceful protest in Bentley reflect Premier Baird’s pledge to undo corruption in this state? “We should never be ashamed of listening to our conscience nor to our community—in essence this is why we are here”. That IS why you are here, Premier Baird. These are your words. Please acknowledge the simple decency that informed them, and act accordingly.

  2. It appears”arrogance” is the theme of the Liberal Party. Anthony Roberts refused to talk to anyone against gas, “lawbreakers” he calls the Northern Rivers (the week before he appeared before ICAC himself but seemed to escape the noose so far, funny he and Mr Harcher holiday on yachts together) Mr Baird the man who now leads them refuses to speak to the people of Bentley. Who in hell do these guys think they are. Makes one wonder why they don’t have to talk to anyone, why some even go silent for the last three years after their son started working for a mining company, may not be a Lib but may as well be. We have the same arrogance with Federal Libs too, no one else matters, Campbell Newman would have to be the worst of all. Are we headed for a Dictatorship in this country?? Seems like it to everyone I speak to.

  3. Thank you Hans for clearly highlighting the brazenly stubborn stance of this NSW Coalition government, along with its persistent inability to come to terms with the true meaning/manifestations of “Democracy”. One important facet should be perhaps more effectively exposed: that is, the mantra like statement of: “This is a legal mining operation”. Thus, in one fell swoop, the government’s defence for the enormous police presence being organised is that ANY opposition is, by definition, illegal.

    I witnessed the same stance in last year’s Whian Whian logging fiasco (“This is a legal logging operation”), in spite of the fact that the EPA and Forestry Corporation had specifically ignored scientific & legally based environmental reports and surveys which had taken a directly contrary position. We (almost ALL of us were Whian Whian Road LOCALS) then were confronted by an overwhelming police presence (usually between 12 to 18 uniformed and so called Tactical Response Group thugs), a largely biased media throng (The Byron Shire Echo, Echonetdaily and ABC North Coast Radio being exemplary exceptions) and an unruly group of abusive and aggressive loggers. This confrontation only ended as a result of the accidental death of one of the loggers, who was struck by a falling limb … we still await the Coronial Inquest at Lismore Court.

    The point I would like to make is that these above events are skirmishes in a greater battle: the battle for Democracy. And to win this battle, we all need to look to the upcoming NSW election, and the defeat of the local incumbent, Thomas George. We need to find an Independent candidate, grounded in the three key qualities of INDEPENDENCE, INTELLIGENCE & INTEGRITY. Someone who can walk proudly in the footsteps of previous morally inspired politicians, such as Ted Mack, Peter Andren, Andrew Wilkie, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott. Given Hans’ first sentence, there simply cannot be a more opportune time for this to occur.

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