NSW Greens MP Jan Barham has called on the state government to compensate north-coast accommodation providers following its cancellation of hundreds of motel bookings after its sudden suspension of Metgasco’s Bentley gas licence.
Until the announcement last week that permission for the test well had been withdrawn, the state government planned to enforce Metgasco’s right to drill with up to 800 police, from across NSW, who would have had to be accommodated.
In the lead-up to the expected confrontation, the police force booked out hundreds of hotel and motels across the north coast, depriving other travellers of bookings.
‘These businesses, and our local communities, have missed opportunities to host tourists who were unable to book accommodation owing to the planned police operation. The least the government can do is to compensate those operators who were directly affected by the reckless plan to use police force on a peaceful protest,’ Ms Barham said.
‘It’s especially unfair that the communities who have expressed such strong opposition to unconventional gas might bear the economic impact from a mining operation that lacked a social licence.
‘The communities of the northern rivers have wanted to remain gasfield free, and our region’s wellbeing relies on industries such as tourism, not mining.
‘I’m relieved that the police operation at Bentley did not proceed as planned following a large amount of community pressure. But the government must shoulder responsibility for the financial impact on the north-coast accommodation industry caused by their last minute back-down,’ Ms Barham concluded.
Accommodation providers are not the only group to have lost out.
Ballina mayor David Wright told a Council meeting yesterday he personally knew a caterer who had begun ordering food to feed the police.