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Byron Shire
September 27, 2021

Bentley farmers head to Sydney to hunt pollies

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Chris Dobney

A group of Bentley farmers are today heading to Sydney with the hope of speaking to politicians about theirconcerns over unconventional gas exploration in their area.

Yesterday afternoon a text alert went out from Gasfield Free Northern Rivers, calling on supporters to come to this morning’s ‘greet the dawn’ at the Bentley Blockade.

The call was to symbolically support the farmers who have taken it on their own bat to visit state parliament today after requests to Lismore Nationals MP Thomas George to arrange meetings for them with senior state politicians appear to have drawn a blank.

Gasfield Free Northern Rivers spokesperson Adam Guise estimated that 1,000 or more ‘packed the site entrance’ at 5am this morning to farewell the farmers and put on a show for Channel 7 Sydney which had sent cameramen to cover the story.

The mayors of Lismore, Byron and Kyogle were also present.

‘People were absolutely inspired and galvanised today, and motivated to keep doing what they’re doing,’ Mr Guise told Echonetdaily.

‘They realise it sends big shockwaves through the halls of power and puts the government on notice that we’re a non-violent movement and we’re not about to lie down and let them turn the northern rivers into a gasfield.’

He added that peaceful protests like this morning’s ‘bring people together, build trust and build relationships. We’re prepared, united and non-violent.’

900 police

Mr Guise said that while no trouble is expected from police today, shock and awe tactics are planned for two weeks’ time, when organisers believe as many as 900 riot police will attempt to out-flank protesters.

‘We’re expecting 700-900 riot police to arrive from Sydney on May 19. By my estimates they work on a ratio of three to one, so if there are 3,000 of us they’ll send 900.

Mr Guise said local police were largely onside ‘but they feel the minister will sign off on it [the use of police at the site]’.

He said he was not certain what ministers the group of landholders would be able to speak to but was ‘confident there will be some people they can meet with’.

But he added that one of them would not be new mining minister Anthony Roberts.

‘Mr Roberts said he was not prepared to meet with us unless we announce civil disobedience as he did not want to “consort with lawbreakers”.

‘Given the former premier and resources minister have just resigned in the wake of ICAC revelations we’re asking who are the ones consorting with lawbreakers?’

 

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Sounds like the new mining minister Anthony Roberts picks and chooses the ‘lawbreaker’s’ he chooses to consort with. The corporations and other corrupt politicians are o.k. to consort with but the community he’s elected to represent who is abiding by the law is no way?!

    Let’s get a community party together… maybe call it the Bentley party in honour of this historic show of grassroots democracy. That way we can vote out the Liberal/National/Fishers and shooters party. We already know that Labour isn’t much better with the likes of Ian McDonald. I trust the protectors at Bentley at looking our for community a heck of a lot more than I do Thomas George or Chris Gulaptis. I keep getting brochures from Gulaptis outlining what he’s doing for the region when he’s absent from the most important issue the community is concerned about. What a joke!

  2. From lies and misinformation fear grows.
    Rather than chasing NSW politicians with irrational fears,the north coast farmer’s time in Sydney would be better served checking out “AGL’s Camden Gas Project [which has] has been producing gas for the Sydney region since 2001, and currently produces about 5% of New South Wales’s gas needs.”

    Although it might be hard for our local farmers to find AGL’s gas field in the intact rural landscape and it will possibly surprise them that the much abused label of a said “toxic” industry is nowhere to be found.

    Related health issues in Camden, what health issues?

    “AGL employs approximately 60 full time employees, 80% of whom are from the Macarthur region, and 40% of the Project’s suppliers and contractors are locally-based businesses.

    As of July 2013, the project consists of 144 gas wells of which 95 are currently producing gas, low-pressure underground gas gathering lines and the Rosalind Park Gas Plant.
    The Project has been producing CSG for the Sydney region since 2001. On 9 December 2006, the Minister for Planning approved the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute Wells (Project Approval 06_0138) and the Razorback Wells (Project Approval 06_0137).

    These approvals were for the construction and operation of 14 gas wells on the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute (EMAI) property, 10 gas wells on the Razorback properties, along with associated gas gathering lines and access roads. The EMAI and Razorback wells were drilled during 2007.

    In 2009, AGL acquired Sydney Gas Limited, and became 100% owner and operator of the Project.

    The Camden Gas Project has recently been expanded by the development of the Spring Farm and Menangle Park Projects, which were approved by the then-Minister for Planning in September 2008. The Spring Farm and Menangle Park Environmental Assessment is available”, on the web.

  3. I felt like a fraud today, working in a local primary school accessioning library resources with titles such as; ‘Protecting our Human Story’, ‘Biodiversity of Coasts’, ‘ Protecting Ecosystems’, ‘Protecting Earth’s History’ , I felt like a fraud because while we educate our children in these subjects and instill into them a sense of social conscience, our governments completely contradict these teachings of looking after our country and show inappropriate leadership to our future generations and disregard for our environment. I applaud the group of farmers who have gone to Sydney today, I wish they didn’t have to and I wish we didn’t have engage in this terrible stand-off between the government and the majority of the community who will resist this disgraceful set of circumstances. It is a foul show of leadership; democracy it isn’t.

  4. John Vaughan: AEC conducted poll stated 87% of people do not want this industry here.
    What part of that figure don’t you understand?
    Whilst you may enjoy cherry picking a few statistics about Camden to support your position,
    Its always the actual picture of fossil fuel mining in this country you ignore- the negatively disproportionate cost/benefit to community when a triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental factors are considered.
    Try Chatting to people who work in the industry- I have and the picture isn’t pretty.
    How does the possibility of uranium in the local aquifer sound?
    Compromised well casings, leaking/ spilling toxic ponds and community ill health are very much the norm OVER TIME, not the exception. All of this in your food bowl and wider water catchment. CSG as an industry is a castle made of sand: A short term cash trophy without any concept of long lasting foundation for positive long term benefits. As usual, it privatises the profits, and socialises the costs. Under proactive community action, It and its proponents will drift into the sea, eventually…

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