Tweed mayor says Nats gagged him over CSG

NSW deputy premier Troy Grant arrives for the media event on the NSW-Queensland border yesterday accompanied by Tweed MP Geoff Provest, left.

NSW deputy premier Troy Grant arrives for the media event on the NSW-Queensland border yesterday accompanied by Tweed MP Geoff Provest, left.

Luis Feliu

Tweed mayor Gary Bagnall has launched a scathing attack on state MP Geoff Provest and deputy premier Troy Grant, accusing the two National Party politicians of trying to gag him over his stand against coal-seam gas (CSG) mining.

The defiant dummy-spit came on the eve of a media event organised by the two MPs yesterday at which they announced funding for a new tourism sign on the highway at the Queensland border.

Despite being snubbed for what he wanted to say, the Tweed mayor went along to the highway-edge announcement.

The row erupted on Friday when Mr Provest emailed council general manager Troy Green to tell him to trash a draft press release on the funding announcement because the mayor had made comments he didn’t like.

Cr Bagnall, who was elected mayor just last month, said his comments for the draft release had welcomed the funding for the sign, adding that Tweed council had taken the initiative to promote tourism by installing new signs ‘explaining the indigenous meaning of some village names, and that the shire also had plans for Gasfield Free signs’.

But Mr Provest saw red when he read the draft and fired off an email to council to say he found the mayor’s comments ‘totally inappropriate’.

‘Commenting about the gas field free signs just shows a lack of integrity and professionalism,’ Mr Provest said, accusing Cr Bagnall of taking an ‘opportunity to have little digs at the state government’.

The Tweed MP then told council it would ‘not be required to make any official comment’.

Cr Bagnall told Echonetdaily he was furious at being ‘snubbed and told to shut up’, saying new deputy premier Mr Grant was a staunch supporter of CSG and would not have liked ‘any mention of CSG”.

‘But I won’t be silenced,’ the mayor said.

‘What Mr Provest said was totally uncalled for, it was my first press release using a quote of mine, and I wanted to say how it was a good thing and added to other signs promoting the shire.

‘He was rude to me and should’ve called and discussed it with me first, he’s the one that lacks professionalism,’ he said.

Cr Bagnall said he would not be told ‘how to think or what to say’ by anyone and that from now on, he would write his own media releases ‘so if you hear it, I’ve said it’.

Objection to spin

He said previous mayors had gone along with what politicians and the bureaucracy wanted ‘to spin’.

‘I don’t want the community to feel ripped off, so I’ll not have my releases fabricated,’ he said.

Cr Bagnall said Mr Grant was on the record as describing those opposing CSG exploration as ‘scaremongering’.

He said he would always stand up for Tweed residents’ opposition to CSG and unconventional gas exploration.

“The deputy premier is the second most powerful elected NSW politician, but he does not have a right to tell me what to think or say,’ Cr Bagnall said.

‘I stand with our community and oppose harmful coal seam gas mining and I will never be silenced by CSG supporters like the Nationals’ deputy premier or Geoff Provest,’ the mayor said.

Mr Provest told Echonetdaily the mayor ‘is welcome to his views and is free to make any public comment he chooses’, but because the project and land the sign was to go on was the state government’s, the announcement therefore was ‘not the appropriate vehicle to push other political agendas’.

Council GM Mr Green said that because the sign was on a state, rather than council, road council’s involvement was limited to the original request for improved gateway signage.

Mr Green told Echonetdaily it was not uncommon for local and state governments to issue joint press releases, and agreement was needed by both parties.

‘Normal protocol and etiquette is to focus on the announcement and not introduce or discuss other initiatives that may only be relevant to one party,’ he said.

‘The mayor in his quote altered from this protocol and on that basis the government understandably as the body funding, undertaking the works and owning the end product directed that they would handle the media releases alone but that council were still invited to attend.’


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16 responses to “Tweed mayor says Nats gagged him over CSG”

  1. Dr. Wom Bhatt says:

    Kudos to Mr.Bagnall for attempting to do the right thing by his constituents but he is misinformed about his position. Local GovCo sits under and is owned by State GovCo. They “own” him. That is how the system is built. It’s not “Democracy”, it’s “Demockery”. What a con !

  2. Kamala says:

    The power really belongs to the people!
    Standing up for the people is what councillors & politicians are meant to do!
    Thanks Gary!

  3. Ben says:

    A sure sign of a culture of bullying, intimidation and of wealthy suits trying to protect their financial interests. That is the only “protocol and etiquette” I see here.

  4. Chris Aitchison says:

    Well done, Mayor Bagnall.

    You have made clear your convictions and you speak for the majority of the Tweed Shire electorate when you denounce CSG.

    ‘Protocol and etiquette’ exists in political and bureaucratic circles primarily to perpetuate the status-quo. To ignore it (even to be ignorant of it) is no crime; when the status quo is conspiring to destroy our wonderful region and its communities, it is BEHOLDEN on you to ignore protocol and etiquette, and resist the status quo.

    Take a stand against CSG by whatever means are available to you, and if they have any sense, your constituents will support you.

  5. Sue Billson-Hewett says:

    Thank you Councillor Bagnall, for your integrity. The shire and community are indeed fortunate, to have your strength and commitment, as their elected voice.

  6. Barbara Thomas says:

    It’s great to hear our Mayor stand up for his right to speak about the community’s strong stand on not allowing CS’/unconventional gas into the Shire. Go Gary!!!

    As we know all the National politicians in this area don’t represent the community they are supposed to represent in this matter, they are aligned with the position of supporting the damaging fossil fuel industry. May one decade they will have caught up with the climate change issue and the penny will drop that its renewable energy that we want and need.

    They could google ‘solar panels on sheep farms and vineyards in the Pyrenees region of France’ and they would see how HUGE installations solar farms are coexisting with agriculture – they might even try to advocate for it in Australia!

  7. Elpida Hope says:

    Finally, the Tweed has an elected representative that’s representing the people and not a puppet on corporate strings. Next election we need to vote the Nationals out of office. They seem to represent special interest groups, corporations and developers. That’s not a democracy.

  8. It says heaps about the lack of integrity that Geoff Provest has… or more correctly DOESN’T have…
    Scumbag politicians who get into power then forget how they got there should watch themselves!
    Geoff Provest knows this is one of the most important issues in our region and 98% of the electorate believe we should have no CSG… how can this man say he represents us? He represents only Macquarie St and his own selfish political status.

    Also… The echo CAPTCHA is unreadable…. attempt # 3

  9. Paul says:

    Tweed MP Provest is a dud. He has failed to deliver on the majority of his promises and is a head nodding yes man who wants to continue in his and the National Party attack on the worker, the less fortunate and the old, so as to feather the wealthy’s nest, Come 2015, Vote these imbeciles out !!

  10. Tim says:

    Geoff Provest needs to answer the question….. why did Provest over-react and attack an honest man such as Gary Bagnal who simply wanted to put a praising addition into the conversation. Yes Tweed should be paying honour and respect to our nation’s first people, and Yes the non National Party majority that live in the Tweed Shire reject Provest, Tom George & Don Page’s lack of integrity on CSG. Go Gary!!!!! you are the leader Tweed Shire really needs so we can steer our region in the correct direction away from dangerous CSG.

  11. Donna Black says:

    Mayor Bagnall is Breathe of Fresh Air… A Sheep amoung many wolves… Armstrong and Milne are also hard working Honest People!!!… Time we got rid of the 4 bad apples that spoyl the bunch!!!

  12. darren says:

    It should be commended that a newly appointed mayor will speak out on behalf of the community that he represents & believes has not only spoken out , but demonstrated its beliefs and wishes with against CSG mining in the northern rivers.
    Well done Gary , I encourage you to listen to resident and ratepayers of the Tweed to guide you.

  13. Don Durrant says:

    Woopee.. A mayor guts. One that reflects the sentiments of the people that he is elected to represents. Bad luck Provost and his fellow puppets dont have the same principles and integrity. Remember when we respected politicians? They were obviously of a much higher grade then. These days they are bought and sold like the trash that most of them are.

  14. David says:

    Many thanks MR Mayor. A stand against bullying is a stand for Australia.
    Politicians need to know they are elected to represent us all not control us.

  15. Margaret Cooper says:

    Go Gary! It’s great to see you are listening to what the people want – lets hope this continues with all matters concerning our beautiful Shire.

  16. Ben says:

    This is the same Mr Bagnall with that much “integrity” that today was found guilty of miss conduct by the civil and administrative tribunal of NSW. I would challenge everyone to locate a coal seam gas exploration liscence or proposal in the Tweed electorate. There is none. Your better off directing your efforts into the Lismore electorate. At least they have gas.

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