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Byron Shire
April 15, 2021

Protectors breakfast at Bentley

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It wouldn't be a Bentley gathering without the Knitting Nannas.
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With the NSW government set to make a decision about Metgasco’s drilling suspension this week, the faithful returned to Bentley for breakfast this morning to send off a delegation to speak with the government.

A message sent out by phone and email over the weekend called for ‘a community gathering to call on the NSW government to uphold Metgasco’s licence suspension and cancel the licence outright’.

Gasfield Free Northern Rivers spokesperson Boudicca Cerese told the gathering of about two hundred that an announcement on the suspension was expected on Wednesday.

‘Our message to Metgasco and the government is that our community is still here and is still determined to keep our region gas free,’ she said.

She invited everyone to sign a letter to NSW premier Mike Baird and local MPs, asking that the suspension remain in place.

‘Whilst Metgasco may argue over the way the suspension was implemented, we maintain that the suspension itself is totally justified due to Metgasco’s failure to adhere to the community consultation guidelines required under its licence conditions,’ the letter says.

Ms Cerese said a detailed report had been sent to the premier’s office outlining the community’s concerns about the consultation process, as well as operational failures.

She said those failures provided the government with ‘ample justification to not only suspend the licence but to cancel it outright’.

‘Our community is overwhelmingly opposed to gasfield industrialisation of the northern rivers region and only licence cancellation will resolve the ongoing conflict on this issue.’

The letter will be delivered to the offices of Thomas George, Don Page, Geoff Provest and Chris Gulaptis tomorrow at midday, and a delegation will attend a meeting of the Richmond Valley Council at 5pm tomorrow.

‘We strongly urge the state government and our National Party MPs to represent our community rather than the vested interests of mining companies like Metgasco’.

One of the Sydney-bound residents, Bentley landholder Rosemary Joseph expressed concern the NSW government could ‘back-flip’ on the suspension of Metgasco’s drilling licence ‘and we plan to remind them of the ways in which Metgasco failed to undertake genuine and effective consultation with our community,’ she said.

‘At today’s breakfast gathering we are letting our elected representatives know that we, the people, are still here, and we are calling on them to cancel Metgasco’s licence once and for all!’ Ms Joseph added.

‘We locals are fortunate to have the ongoing strong support of people from the northern rivers –support we do not have from our own Nationals MP Thomas George nor the minister for the north coast Andrew Stoner.’

She said that if the suspension was lifted, Bentley protectors would be back in force, ‘stronger and larger than ever to protect our land and defend our rights to clean air and water.’

Her sentiments were echoed by fellow local farmer and administrator Meg Nielsen, who added that the community ‘will not rest until gas exploration licences across this region are cancelled’.

‘This community is outraged that Metgasco doesn’t know when to pack its bags and go. Despite having its licence justifiably suspended, Metgasco is intent on bullying its way back into the region by suing the NSW government,’ she said.

‘We are horrified to think that the government may once again be considering forcing conflict onto this peaceful rural community which has clearly voiced its objection to Metgasco’s forced drilling operations,’ she added.




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  1. The communities will only get more vocal and the truth of the matter is that Metgasco is really giving a bad name to this Industry which already is struggling to get support across the country given its invasive and extensive operations impacting water, land and air etc.

    NSW Government need to understand that this is not a plot from a radical fringe of anarchists. This is the position of the whole region and NSW state government needs to respect the voters and more so investigate the network of corruption of coal and gas mining licences.

  2. Stand-by to Stand-by; it’s all going to kick off again. Our government is too much in the thrall of big mining (lots of dosh chucked the LNP way).

    Essentially, the government will be announcing the winner of “the people” vs “big mining et al”.

    And the winner is……………..

  3. It was gratifying to witness that the same camaraderie amongst previously disparate groups remains beyond the Bentley blockade :-). People from all walks of life remain a united force against Metgasco and other polluting industries and their puppets.

    In the spirit of true representation of the people of the Northern Rivers region, I call upon Minister Roberts and Stoner to observe reason and decency and cancel Metgasco’s licence outright. Too many allegations of corruption, along with historically recorded incidents of environmental vandalism, and procedural breakdown have cast a pall over this company. The people of this region simply will not allow its operations here. May the force be with us… In a good way!

  4. This wonderful community made a strong stand at Bentley…if necessary we will do so again in even larger numbers…when our Minister for the North Coast calls us ” professional bludgers” & states that we are led by radicals etc , he not only doesn’t represent anything approximating the truth but totally fails to represent our divergent community, made up of a wide range of people all united in our determination that our beautiful region will not become an industrial wasteland. Thomas George has also totally failed to represent the MAJORITY view which has been clearly articulated by his constituents that we want all PELs in the Northern Rivers not only suspended but cancelled outright.

    Stay strong people & enjoy the ” outbreak of Democracy”( as Aiden Ricketts so aptly puts it), that we have felt. United we are non violently powerful.

  5. The name-calling against the Protectors is the oldest trick in politics – diversion.Get people wasting their energy arguing over an irrelevant issue. They have no other leg to stand on so they say ‘oh you are just professional protesters on the dole’ . The Greens party has suffered versions of this ‘distraction’ tactic over decades. Well so what if you are a doctor,lawyer or an unsanitary dreadlocked sand castle maker. It has nothing to do with anything. The issue is – the people have sovereignty – a soulless legal entity does not. The issue is, ‘The Fiasco’ (love that new name!) and OCSG have this idea they have sovereign ownership by default and decision over what happens to the land the people live on. This idea that, they own the ground and whats under it, and get to choose one way or the other, what happens there. They are now so far out of their depth it’s not funny, and it will take some time, but I simply can’t wait to see the consequences
    PS – everyone just ignore any more name calling and redirect your vitriol 😉

  6. What are you all complaining about? The gas industry brings jobs, pays the taxes that funds schools and hospitals and keeps produces the energy that enables us to live a Western lifestyle. Don’t you want those things?

  7. Everyone knows that these so called jobs are minimal and they are temporary as well.Mining is not job intensive.To put at risk our water,air,land for jobs at the expense of our region is not welcome.And the gas is for the Asian market that is why there is land grab and too many government officials have been too close to the coal and gas companies.Smells bad.We want a full investigation.

  8. My appologies to all of those who pride themselves on peaceful protest. In most cases, this is the best approach. But this is different. This mob are not getting the message. This is our land, our livelihoods, our kids future, our regions future. If metgasco get the go ahead to continue operations, some of them will be in for a rude shock. A group of fed up locals wil be taking a far more personal approach. At the very least, we hope that metgasco employees will go home realising that their safety is more important than their destructive job. Peaceful protest works for companies who have a conscience, and politicians who listen, but that’s not who we are dealing with!


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