A north coast anti-gas activist has condemned four north-coast National Party state MPs over their claims to be responsible for the suspension of Metgasco’s petroleum exploration licence at Bentley.
Lock the Tweed’s Michael McNamara condemned a joint media release issued by Lismore MP Thomas George, Ballina MP Don Page, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis and Tweed MP Geoff Provest, as ‘too little, too late’ and accused the four of trying to claim credit for the suspension.
Mr McNamara said the strategy ‘stinks to high heaven’.
In their media release, issued just hours after the suspension was announced, Chris Gulaptis said the group had approached NSW energy minister Anthony Roberts and told him they believed ‘the company had failed to engage in sufficient genuine and effective consultation with the community’.
Mr Page described the government’s action as ‘decisive’ and ‘timely’, adding it ‘should defuse tensions at the Bentley site and across the community’.
Mr Provest who is also parliamentary secretary for police, said that while the police force was ‘absolutely ready and capable of enforcing the rule of law’, it was ‘preferable to avoid major confrontations like these’.
Mr George saved his talking point to attack federal Labor MP Justine Elliot, who he said ‘stirs up a lot of trouble’.
Unlike Mrs Elliot, however, none of the four MPs ever visited the Bentley protest site.
Mr McNamara said the media release ‘shows that Mr George and the other Nationals MPs on the north coast lack integrity’.
‘They claim to be responsible for stopping the drilling at Bentley yet, on every single occasion where they had the opportunity to stand with the communities they are supposed to represent, they have stood with the miners.’
‘A number of community petitions totalling more than 10,000 signatures each have been presented to the state parliament.
‘Not once did these so-called representatives actually represent their communities’ views; in fact Thomas George has supported expansion of the industry.
‘On every occasion, when they did speak, it was against the views expressed in the petitions.
‘To come out now and claim that they have protected their communities stinks to high heaven.
‘None of them visited the Bentley blockade to see firsthand the breadth and depth of opposition from right across the community.
‘The Nationals need to be reminded that they are elected to represent their communities, something that, so far, seems to have escaped their notice.
‘Thomas George, in particular, has long been a vocal advocate for Metgasco. In 2010, in the state parliament, he spoke strongly in support of Metgasco’s operations in the northern rivers.
‘More recently, Mr George seems to have had some difficulty understanding the notions of conflict of interest and community consultation.
‘If Thomas George and the other Nationals MPs had any integrity they would have apologised to the community for their previous actions, rather than playing politics with this decision,’ he said.
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