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May 15, 2021

Police must respect Bentley protesters: Greens

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Protectors gathered at Bentley. (Darren Coyne)
Protectors gathered at Bentley. (Darren Coyne)

NSW police are being asked to respect the right of citizens to peacefully protest if Metgasco attempts to drill for unconventional gas at Bentley near Lismore.

NSW Greens mining spokesman Jeremy Buckingham has written to NSW Police Minister Troy Grant requesting that police respect protesters rights even if they take part in acts of civil disobedience.

Mr Buckingham said the northern rivers community had made it clear that they want their region gasfield free.

‘Tens of thousands of reasonable Australians are prepared and determined to partake in protest to stop any drilling for unconventional gas.

‘It is clear that Metgasco have failed to earn a social licence,’ Mr Buckingham wrote.

‘I am sure you agree that while the NSW police force is there to enforce the law, it should not be used as a private security force for a company against the broad community.’

Mr Buckingham reminded Mr Grant that 900 police were set to break up the Bentley blockade last year before the government intervened and cancelled Metgasco’s drilling licence.

‘It was an excellent decision by the NSW government to avoid what could have been a serious conflict,’ he said.

Mr Buckingham’s letter to the minister is just one action the Greens are taking to stop coal seam gas and unconventional gas mining in NSW.

Tomorrow at the site of the Bentley protest camp, newly elected Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith will join Mr Buckingham and Greens MLC Jan Barham to launch a bill aimed at prohibiting coal seam gas in NSW.

Their proposed Petroleum (Onshore) Amendment (Prohibit Coal Seam Gas) Bill 2015 would ban the production of coal seam and unconventional gas in NSW and reintroduce Public Interest as grounds to cancel existing petroleum licences.

‘The Bill will be a test of how genuine various political parties are in their commitments to protect land, water and communities from coal seam gas,’ they said.

Meanwhile, Ms Smith hosted a morning tea for the Knitting Nannas Against Gas this morning in her Ballina electorate office.

The morning tea has been organized to thank the Nannas for their efforts protecting the region from CSG.

A spokesman for Ms Smith said it was symbolic to have the Nannas inside the electorate office given they have spent the last few years protesting on the outside the offices of Lismore’s National Party member Thomas George, and retired Ballina National Party member Don Page.

The Knitting Nannas taking tea with new Ballina MP, Greens member Tamara Smith. Under former Nationals MP Don Page they usually got to sit on the pavement. Photo supplied
The Knitting Nannas taking tea with new Ballina MP, Greens member Tamara Smith. Under former Nationals MP Don Page they usually got to sit on the pavement. Photo supplied

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