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Byron Shire
May 12, 2021

Metgasco wins court case against licence suspension

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The Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Metgasco in its battle with the state government over suspension of its Bentley licence.

The government’s decision to override the licence was ‘not made according to law’, according to Justice Richard Button.

He also ruled that the government pay all of Metgasco’s costs.

The company’s licence to explore for unconventional gas at its Rosella well near Lismore was suspended by the state government last May following sustained and overwhelming local opposition to the proposed drilling operation.

Resources minister Anthony Roberts suspended the exploration licence after concerns the company had not undertaken ‘genuine and effective consultation with the community’.

But the company said the government was acting outside its powers.

It also claimed the government ‘did not follow the procedures defined in the Act or afford Metgasco procedural fairness’ and says that the decision to suspend the drilling activity based on Metgasco’s community consultation ‘could not have been made rationally’.

Legislative reform required

CSG Free Northern Rivers spokesperson Dean Draper attended today’s hearing, which he described as ‘a disappointing outcome’.

‘If Metgasco are successful in their demand for compensation, more public money is going to be thrown at a dangerous and unpopular industry,’ he said

‘This mess is a result of the government’s failure to act decisively to create watertight legislative means to cancel the northern rivers unconventional gas licences. There is now an urgent need for new legislation to enable the government to cancel mining titles on public interest grounds, without compensation, and to make the northern rivers permanently gasfield free, as the community wants.

‘The people of the northern rivers have overwhelmingly demanded full cancellation of all gas licences in our region. We have declared ourselves gasfield free by direct community democracy. We shouldn’t have to blockade to deliver protection for the region: the Government just needs to do their job and represent the people.

‘The northern rivers community demands legislative reform to enable the cancellation of gas licences across the region. The least the state government can do is act in good faith with the will of the people, and make the northern rivers permanently gasfield free.’ he said.


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  1. At first very shocking and unexpected news – but in the grand divine plan it could be the best thing that happened. It’s a chance for the community to prove to each other, and thus to the CSG industry, how disciplined, determined, close knit, principled, strong and powerful we really are! It doesn’t matter what they, or the courts think! We don’t want CSG! And we live here! So we won’t have it! End of story! This ‘two steps back’ may prove to eventually be ‘6 steps forward’ – proving that WE are stronger than a court ruling – as we hold our position and stand our ground – and, even. take legal action ourselves against Metgasco – we’ll send an even BIGGER shock wave through the worldwide CSG industry – far bigger than the initial Bentleigh ruling did. C’mon friends – lets make Metgasco rue the day they messed with US!!!

  2. Remember – ‘the whole world is watching us now’ – we have a chance to achieve victories that will benefit EVERYONE facing the CSG machine all over the world. This court decision today could be the best thing that ever happened. We will prove that its the PEOPLE that make the decisions, not corporations, not govermnents not licensing bodies.

  3. Can anyone clarify if this also means the community consultation process by Metgasco was found to be adequate, or did this not even get a mention in the case?
    Dean- you are absolutely right. It’s time for legislative changes. Hopefully they can be made retrospectively and keep this industry out of the region.

  4. Stirring words Rachel, you are right, we now will have to back ourselves even more to show that people power can get the laws actually changed. . . . . the gas industry and their ‘friends’ in government have not been idle . . . it seems they are going to make it impossible for many of us to protest and get arrested, by introducing big fines and mandatory jail terms for repeat arrestees. This means judges who have been sympathetic so far will now have to fine and jail people whether they want to or not. . . Now I was prepared to get arrested, but I have a big mortgage on my farm and would fail in my repayments if fined more than $1000 or jailed for any term, i would lose the farm I’ve worked 40 years to buy !. . .
    . So , Those who can afford to be arrested need to still do so, but the rest of us need to work out other ways of blocking the drilling, without getting arrested. . . it’s a big ask . . . has anyone got any ideas ? ? ? . . . .

  5. The NSW Supreme Court’s ruling in favour of Metgasco in relation to the suspension of it’s drilling approval at Bentley in May last year is not unexpected. The NSW Government has the power, through clauses in the Onshore Petroleum Act (1991) to cancel Metgasco’s license in the Northern Rivers if it had the political will to do so. It’s time our politicians worked together to finally declare the Northern Rivers Gasfield Free!!!!

  6. The establishment still doesn’t get it . And they never will. Our premier for god sake worked for Deutsch Bank In other words he represents controlling European interests. Not our welfare.

    He does not represent your interests.

    Neither does Gulaptis nor George.

    Joe Monks

  7. Well now that I’ve recovered from a severe attack of dismay and after reading these comments, I’m ready for round two; as my son put it, ‘it’s round two Mum, like a boxing match, it’ll be ok.’ Let’s now see how the promises pan out now Mr George…time to cough up. We had an awesome Camp Liberty, we can do it again if we have to and this time we’ll be even more organised. Bring it!

  8. When is our illustrious local member in town so we can show the strength we have? We cannot afford to be weak: we must come out in full strength! Forget the piddling 5000 or so at Bentley: we need 10 000 plus to show our dissatisfaction.

    Please do not let the beautiful Northern Rivers be defaced & polluted like Chinchilla-Tara. This needs to be stopped!

    It beats me that our politicians think there is another world that humans can live on after this one is totally polluted, with not enough arable land to sustain the population we currently have. When will the politicians protect our environment against rampant greed?

    Thomas George, please wake up before it is too late to save the coming generations: our beloved children & children after that. Rescind this license please. During the election you said that you were listening, now is the time to show you have heard!

  9. Oh well,
    I had no idea that the Supreme Court was controlled by the government of the day!
    This obviously a political decision, the election is over in NSW and now it’s back to the agenda and the people will have their work cut out for them, in their fight against the multi-nationals.
    The politicians have been bought and it’s obvious where the courts stand so……. remember Gallipoli,(where the government of the day decided to sacrifice 120,000 kids in the name of politics), the Moratorium (when the government was determined to sacrifice kids, too young to vote, to the wishes of our ‘allies’ and to the success of the people in the face of overwhelming odds at Terania Creek, the success in the battle for the old growth forests that were destined for pulping for toilet paper, in Tasmania.
    We do have the power and we must stand together to stop the government destroying our country,whether it is dredging the Barrier Reef for CSG or the industrialisation of the Northern Rivers ,with the consequent poisoning of our land ,water and air.
    Power to the people! G”)

  10. Wrong, wrong,wrong,wrong,wrong. All of you people in the Northern Rivers use petroleum products. How can you consistently moan about gas being exploited up there when you benefit from petroleum products dug up elsewhere. The hypocrisy is very clear. One rule for the Northern Rivers and another rule elsewhere. Wake up to yourselves and grow some integrity.

    • Well David, the fact is that ALL of these oil based products could be manufactured by using RENEWABLE sources of oil such as hemp oil. The real hypocrites are the dinosaur oil barons, coal miners, gas miners and the Governments (and their apologists) who support them, all the while suppressing real innovation and advancements in the renewables sector.
      This crime against humanity has been ongoing since the introduction of the prohibition of marijuana which was instigated by DuPont Petro-Chemicals as they saw the rise of the hemp industry as a direct threat to their commercial viability. It was cheered on by the Police who were about to lose their alcohol-prohibition funding and a massive propaganda campaign was launched. And so, with the friendly ear of corrupt politicians, DuPont and the fossil fuel barons had their way with the earth and the rest is history.

      Many people of the Northern Rivers are fully aware of this important part of history and the damage it has caused to peoples lives and the health of our planet – hopefully you are now also awake and aware.
      The status quo is not working, there are other, safer, more humane, fair to society at large and environmentally friendly ways of living without giving up the wonders of modern technology. It’s not too late to change.

    • Dumb dumb and dumber,
      Poor David doesn’t understand. I believe that people living in the south of the state should have a new respect for the power of the climate after recent events ! It isn’t a matter of stopping this reckless plundering of the environment,only on the Northern Rivers but everywhere !
      We don’t need more pollution.
      We don’t need more Global Warming.
      We have to re-evaluate the importance of the environmental effects industry is inflicting on us, and any chance for our children to have any sort of future.

    • Dear David, yes most of us are forced to use petroleum products, because that is often the only option available. Yes we try and minimise their use or avoid them completely but unfortunately it is up to governments and big business to make the change to 100% sustainable renewable energy. They can do it and we will support them but until that happens we must try educate them and change their minds which is what we have been doing.

  11. We knew that the victory at Bentley, based on the the logistical difficulties the police faced, was not going to be the end of the story. The whole world is watching how we decide whats important to us up here in the beautiful Northern Rivers. We can offer a sane and humane approach to an unconscionable industry whose only motivation is plunder for profit. We need to be strong, stay united and demand of our politicans to change the laws to protect it’s citizens and our environment and our children’s heritage from the rapacious greed and irresponsible behaviour of multi-national corporations hell bent on decimating our homeland.Say NO to Metagasco.


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