21.6 C
Byron Shire
May 10, 2021

MPs rage as D-day approaches at Bentley

Latest News

Deep listening and housing ideas under Mullum’s fig trees for RenewFest

Around a hundred presenters, musicians, other artists and community activators plus a bumper crowd of punters all came together under the fig trees at the Mullumbimby Showground over the weekend for Renew Fest 2021.

Other News

Byron Bay’s first ever matured spirit wins gold medal at London Spirit Competition

While the Northern Rivers region is well known for its environment and lifestyle, it is also becoming known for...

Create the opportunity for everyone to follow their dreams

Local dance group Sprung!! is an integrated dance theatre that has built a community program that creates space for...

How full is that glass?

Cr Alan Hunter, Byron Shire Council Council Staff recommend opposing the proposed changes in the Exempt Development provisions to be considered...

Assange’s father to beg Biden for son’s freedom

John Shipton, father of detained WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, says he’ll return to the United States to ask President Joe Biden to drop legal action against his son.

‘Endless land releases’ not the solution for Byron’s housing crisis, says Country Labor mayor hopeful

Northern Rivers-based trade unionist and MBA student Asren Pugh has announced his candidature for Byron Shire Mayor in September’s local government elections on behalf of Country Labor. 

Byron Council to introduce car-free Sundays in the centre of town

Byron Council has taken a further step toward getting cars out of, and pedestrians into, the centre of Byron, by voting to introduce car-free Sundays.

The Bentley blockade camp. Photo David Lowe
The Bentley blockade camp. Photo David Lowe

Luis Feliu

Tension is running high as D-Day approaches next Monday when police are set to descend on the community anti-CSG blockade at Bentley to clear a path for a massive drill rig.

The expected diversion of police from across the state to break up the blockade has been slammed in state parliament, with police refusing to confirm the reported use of up to 800 officers for the operation.

A last-minute plea by farmers from Bentley opposed to Metgasco’s proposed gasfield, who travelled to Sydney last week, fell on deaf ears when coalition MPs and ministers refused to see them.

And Southern Cross University has backed down from an agreement to feed police sent to the Bentley protest site after it was flooded with complaints when word spread that its catering arm was involved.

Organisers of the protest, who say Bentley is the biggest community blockade in Australia’s history, have organised last-minute workshops for supporters this week on non-violent direct action (NVDA), in anticipation the police action will take place on Monday 19 May, as widely rumoured.

Sydney media has reported the plans by police to send hundreds of officers, including riot squad, to ‘crush’ the protest.

A police media statement says an operation is planned to take place at Bentley ‘to facilitate a lawful protest and ensure normal operations at the gas exploration site’.

On Thursday, new premier Mike Baird and new police minister Stuart Ayres both refused to confirm reports when questioned by Labor MPs that they were diverting 800 police from regular duties across the state to the protest

The opposition says that’s almost double the allocation of police sent recently to protect the G20 Summit.

‘At a time when violent shootings in Sydney are increasing, Mike Baird and his rookie police minister Stuart Ayres are planning to send 800 police to the north coast to break up a peaceful protest of farmers and local community members concerned about the impacts of CSG,’ opposition leader John Robertson said.

‘Directing 800 police to break up a peaceful protest is a major overreaction by Mike Baird and the Liberals and evidence that the interests of private businesses run this government,’ Mr Roberston said.

‘These actions of the government are putting the safety of the local community and police at risk.’

Shadow police minister Michael Daley said: ‘We have now seen 360 shootings since the Liberals were elected in 2011, Mike Baird should not be diverting resources away from already stretched LACs to break up a protest.

‘This is the first major test for the state’s rookie police minister and the priority he places on stopping the shootings in Western Sydney rather than arresting peaceful protestors on the North Coast,’ Mr Daley said.

Shadow minster for the North Coast Walt Secord said comments by the NSW treasurer Andrew Constance attacking local protestors and declaring they were not ‘peaceful’ as disgraceful.

‘Local community members including farmers on the North Coast have the right to protest against CSG and unconventional gas exploration,’ Mr Secord said.

‘The government should be talking to local community, not insulting protestors and preparing to direct 800 police into the protest.’

Ballina MP Don Page told Echonetdaily five National Party MPs met the people from Bentley in Parliament last week: Geoff Provest, Chris Gulaptis, himself, Thomas George and land and water resources minister Kevin Humphries.

‘We met them despite getting less than 24 hours notice during a Parliamentary session,’ he said.

Knitting Nanna Anne Thompson, right, with local farmers locking on at the gate on Saturday. Photo David Lowe
Knitting Nanna Anne Thompson, right, with local farmers locking on at the gate on Saturday. Photo David Lowe

Meanwhile, Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell says Southern Cross University (SCU) has backflipped on Bentley police catering.

ABC North Coast reported Cr Dowell saying SCU would have risked its reputation had it agreed to feed police sent to the Bentley protest site.

She said the university’s commercial arm, Norsearch, had entered into a catering agreement but when it was known, SCU was flooded with complaints.

‘I think that they’ve responded to that and realised that the community does not wish them to be providing food for this operation,’ she told the ABC.

The non-violent direct action workshops at the Bentley camp 10 minutes from Lismore will be held on Thursday 15 May at 2pm and Saturday 17 May at 1pm, run by Lismore councillor Simon Clough and Lock the Gate regional coordinator Adam Guise.

Also, a new doco on the blockade has been released by Peppercorn Projects called The Medium is the Message (33 minutes long) at http://youtu.be/QAGhO_Hf60s


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


  1. Why have a democracy and voting if we are not allowed to protest and protect our environment.If the police do descend upon Bentley then I may end up getting arrested and handcuffed,a first for me but something that is necessary to allow the community a voice.So if I pour a cocktail of unknown chemicals into the ground I can do so at will? I doubt that I would be allowed todo this and I would be crucified,but the mining companies are allowed to do this!

  2. Thank you, Opposition leader, John Robertson, and Shadow police minister, Michael Daley, for pointing out that there is a legitimacy to this protest, and that the utilising of such a massive amount of police resources equates to an irresponsible removal of policing from very real danger spots elsewhere.

    Shootings in Western Sydney, or peaceful protests in Northern Rivers? It’s not a difficult call. Surely?

    Government support of this incursion by Metgasco into an area where their high risk industry is patently unwelcome might be viewed as dictatorship by some. Those who still view this invasion by Metgasco as in anyway palatable, please consider. What ‘our’ government is doing to we Protectors now, it will be doing to you in the next instance. If this government is content to bulldoze people over one issue, they won’t stop at the next issue, or the one beyond that, as its puppets apparently reign without conscience. This government is deaf to reason, and this protest is necessary because ‘our’ government is not acting in our nation’s best interests.

    Treating peaceful protestors as more attention worthy than gun-wielding murderers? Really?! Any credibility this government has ever mustered, both locally and globally, will end here at Bentley should such a blatant mockery of democracy eventuate.

  3. As a former employee of Wollongbar TAFE I am appalled and disappointed to hear that Wollongbar TAFE is now considering the police catering.

  4. This a chance for anyone that has any doubts about csg to make a stand and say enough is enough.They continue to ignore all please against the destruction of our most beautiful area the northern rivers.It is time that politicians and all people that work in the csg industry and support it, to be shown in a peaceful and firm way that they are not welcome .I will be there on Monday will You !!!!!!!!.

  5. This is a disgrace by the state government to treat peaceful protestors this way by sending in bulldozers and all those police to disburse them, it a joke. they need the police else where arresting criminals. It is all about money once again they don’t care what happens to the environment.

  6. So much appreciate the reporting Luis and many thanks for link to the EXCELLENT video presented by Darmin. Politicians need to see it and then practice DEMOCRACY as Australians have a right to and expect!

  7. I really like all those cars in the picture. It’s nice to know that they have sourced their fuel from someone elses backyard.

    The armchair activists of the north drive their cars everyday – and take nice holidays overseas on big planes using jet fuel.

    But my carbon footprint is special ’cause I’m having the planet with my lifestyle.

    • Transition from dirty to clean takes time and effort, These people are doing just that. You are happy to drown in your lifestyle and think up “smart” replies like “go back to the cave”, great. But, we have heard it all before, get with the movement for a sustainable clean with drinkable water future because we are the future. PS I ride pushbikes and have solo power.

    • Jason, as long as we keep digging up fossil fuels to burn, no new technologies – fuel for cars, other means to boil water to drive turbines to produce electricity – will be discovered. The reason why we are still using 19th Century energy generation is those who ‘own’ these fossil fuel deposits pay corrupt policians and political parties to maintain the status quo.

      • ….. pay politicians – or get elected to Parliament themselves to make sure ‘their’ fossil fuel deposits get dug up so they can maintain their billionaire status!

  8. I’ll be there Brian. If the government sends the police then it reminds me of what China does to quash peaceful protesting. We are a democracy, not a police state or that’s what I thought. The impact on the local economy is already happening as well as social division. Catering companies taking jobs and feeling the brunt of community engagement. Working people are taking time off to show support of the Bentley Blockade which could have a trickle down effect on people spending on local businesses. The whole exercise is impacting the whole community emotionally with loss of trust in the political system and a sense of hopelessness of not being able to do anything about it. It’s impacting our ability to focus on work and family. It’s threatening our future of realising a sustainable future which I believe a lot of this community is committed to and takes action to make happen with solar uptake and supporting local producers. The community on a whole is doing the right thing and I think it’s one of the best places on the planet. It’s worth protecting and our way of life is worth protecting.

  9. The big leveller here for the armchair citizen curled up all cozy a long way from Bently is that you will/are buying food from woolies and coles that has been grown with ‘produced’ water from these gas mines.
    How much do you trust the spin. Brian Monk’s youtube page shows water tankers pouring radioactive water on roads.

  10. The film was inspiring. The wishes of the overwhelming majority must prevail over the greed of the few. It is imperative that all who support this just cause must act. The politicians and the 1% that they represent must relent. I would like to think that if 800 police are called in 20,000 members of the community show up to voice their disdain. This is not about what the organizers are doing: it is about the expression of the will of our entire community. Let’s go to Bentley!!!

  11. This is truly disturbing. Emphasis should be put on renewable energy not more distruction of our precious environment. The very best of luck to you all. I will be thinking of you from here in Victoria on Monday.

  12. This is nothing short of disgraceful on behalf of the NSW government and Metgasco. This kind of bullying against a small community who have every with the full backing of the government and police has no place in a democratic society. As a community you are all remarkable as you have tackled this from so many creative and wonderful angles. Power to you all.

  13. My goodness – if the rumours of the state Govt. planning on sending 800 Police Officers to the protest site are in fact true, it only goes to show how much of a threat the protesters really are. An insignificant group of protesters would not warrant such attention from authorities. This communities spirit and determination in evident and effective – thank you to all the protesters there for trying to stop the drilling. Much love and strength to you all from Melbourne.

  14. To all those who oppose CSG
    from Dr Jacqueline Boustany MBBS, Dip Peads, MPH (Public Health)

    I am writing to suggest there is another way to effectively eliminate this threat of profound water poisoning which would require much less effort than that which is currently being expended by the souls at the front line. Metgasco may fold through the courageous efforts of direct action but may just be taken over by Dart Energy stakeholders of Dutch Shell and Petro China. These players have too many fingers in too many holes in the earth to be stopped by local action and the corporate government have shown little interest in our health or that of the environment until close to election time. It has become painfully obvious that majority vote no longer rules and no matter how many petitions we sign, letters we write or marches we attend or who in fact governs our land, this does not change the fact that our substrata has been already sold many times over to mining companies since white man first set foot here.

    A quick revision of our current global corporate management will show us who holds the cards and where to take action. Multinational bankers and related companies hold the potential earnings of the land and its people as security on the billions they manufacture and lend to the government in its endless cycle of debt. So effectively, their support of the mining companies and governments rely on the money you and I pay them in servicing our loans, credit cards, paying our taxes and rates etc. In fact this is the only real money that exists…. the rest is speculation and inflation, so we as the people have the power to demand change with a simple protest. There is only one language these people understand and that is Money. Ergo the only way to get their attention is to stop paying them, on masse.

    Are we really going to keep asking to be heard whilst we are effectively paying the mining companies indirectly to continue their operations? It’s time to get smart and get organised. We need working parties on the legal requirements of paying off small amounts on our mortgages or credit cards in protest( my info is they cannot take your house or your possessions if you pay something) ; the legality of the local, state and federal government in condoning such action against our constitution; the way to pay our rates and taxes only if they start actually representing the majority, even if we keep the money in a separate local building society. This should not change the governments legal requirements to support us financially with social security or Medicare as long as we continue to fulfil those agreements but this can also be researched.

    Get prewritten template paperwork sent out to make it easy and decide on a day to start on mass, and we will all tip the scales of power. Many of us believe that this is the most powerful, non-violent action we can take for ourselves and the planet and that now is the time.

  15. I can understand where the farmers are coming from but these protesters really! I’ve been to there camp there all driving cars,using gas barbecues an deisel generators.they need a reality check.where does all there fuel an gas come from.they want all theses mines to stop but they still want all the luxuries of power,transport.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Eating vegan is no longer like Mac Vs PC

Remember back in the bad old days when you used either a PC or Mac? Those were your choices, and never the twain could meet. They were so many miles apart in operations that they were like different countries with different languages and appearances

‘Endless land releases’ not the solution for Byron’s housing crisis, says Country Labor mayor hopeful

Northern Rivers-based trade unionist and MBA student Asren Pugh has announced his candidature for Byron Shire Mayor in September’s local government elections on behalf of Country Labor. 

Global predicament

Dudley Leggett – Director of Sustainability Research Institute, Suffolk Park Phillip Frazer’s article, (Echo 6 January) is an excellent summary of our global predicament, and a...

How full is that glass?

Cr Alan Hunter, Byron Shire Council Council Staff recommend opposing the proposed changes in the Exempt Development provisions to be considered in this week’s Council Ordinary meeting. The...