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Byron Shire
October 27, 2021

Another political voice calls for north coast CSG ban

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

Another conservative political voice has joined the chorus calling for a ban on coal seam licence from the north coast of new south wales.

Nationals MLC Ben Franklin. (supplied)
Nationals MLC Ben Franklin. (supplied)

New Nationals Member of the Legislative Council, Ben Franklin, who lives in Ballina, has used his inaugural address to parliament to speak out against CSG mining in the region.

Mr Franklin also named public education, high speed rail, reducing the size of western NSW seats, and cultural equity as his other main focus areas.

He promised to be a fierce advocate for the region.

Mr Franklin said that given that community concerns about CSG were so prevalent, a legal framework for eliminating exploration licenses on the north coast must be found by the government.

‘It is very clear to me that the northern rivers are resolute in their determination that CSG is not appropriate to their area,” Mr Franklin said.

“If we are to excise CSG from the North Coast we must do it in a sensible, responsible and legal way.”

Meanwhile, Page MP Kevin Hogan has also spoken in federal parliament this week about his ongoing opposition to CSG in the region.

Mr Hogan told Parliament he came to the conclusion that CSG was inappropriate for Page after he visited Chinchilla in Queensland in January 2013 to spoke with community members about the impact of the industry there.

‘I tried to envisage what the industry would look like in my region,’ he said.

‘I could not see how the industry could work without being extremely invasive given the nature of our topography and small land owning. It would be exceptionally detrimental to neighbouring properties.’

Mr Hogan said he was “extremely disappointed” by the last month’s decision by the NSW Supreme Court to overturn the State Government’s suspension of the Metgasco licence.

‘Last year I applauded the action of my state colleagues to suspend Metgasco’s drilling programme at Bentley,’ he said.

‘There were 6000 to 7000 people willing to stop a drill going onto a property in my area. A thousand police would have been needed to get that drill on to the land because of people’s concerns about the impact of the CSG industry.

‘I am extremely disappointed by the decision of NSW Supreme Court to squash this suspension.

‘I have spoken to my state colleagues and they are looking for avenues to appeal this decision. They are also looking to buyback Pel 445.”

Mr Hogan said apart from concerns about air and water quality, he was worried about the industrialisation of the pristine landscape of the northern rivers by CSG which would be exacerbated by our small land holdings compared with Chincilla.

‘My community has spoken. I have listened and I will do whatever I can do to support my state colleagues in anything we can do to keep the Northern Rivers Coal Seam Gas free,’ he told Parliament.

The political support is sure to be welcomed by anti-CSG campaigners, who will meet today at the site of the Bentley blockade, just outside Lismore.

Members of Gasfield Free Northern Rivers are planning to present a framed print of the Bentley Blockade to John Scarabelotti, the owner of the land where the blockade camp was located.

The presentation marks one year to the day when the government initially suspended Metgasco’s drilling licence.

Metgasco chief executive Peter Henderson announced last month that the company could be back drilling at Bentley in ‘about three months.’

Mr Henderson told the Australian newspaper that he expected police would be needed to ensure that drilling was not disrupted by protestors.

Mr Henderson said Metgasco wanted to liaise with community groups ahead of the recommencement of drilling.

‘We really want to talk to government and police, we would like to do everything we can to manage community relations,’ he said.

‘We want to be as small a burden as possible, but we really do need to have our rights upheld.’

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  1. Peter Henderson says”We want to be as small a burden as possible”, (cough) “but we really do need to have our rights upheld.” Excuse me??????!!!! How is it that your rights, Mr Henderson, and the rights of a handful of money grabbers feeding off a toxic and much-despised industry, are of a higher priority than the rights of an overwhelming majority of residents, who will, police or no, be back at Bentley should your ugly business demand it so?

    No has always meant, and continues to mean, “NO!”

  2. While Mr Henderson is talking about needing to have Metgasco’s rights upheld, he would do well to consider the democratic rights of the community…..as the Govt was recently reminded at the State election.
    Obviously he considers the community simply an impediment to Metgasco’s ambitions, as his almost non existent Community Consultation process showed. Despite criticism from the Govt & Dept of Coal Seam Gas his attitude seems not to have improved.
    In my opinion, his failure stems not from the Govt intervention but from his initial inadequate business study. Failure to adequately complete market research. Any business looking to set up in a new area needs to do this & market research would certainly have revealed that the Northern Rivers community was never going to accept this kind of industrialisation. On these grounds alone his claim for compensation from the taxpayer should be denied.

    His comment “We want to be as small a burden as possible” is hypocritical & frankly offensive to the thousands of people who put their lives on hold at great emotional & financial expense in an effort to stop this invasion. We recall the years of ongoing stress, anxiety & fear experienced by our friends & neighbours from this threat of the unconventional gas industry & their continued denial of any risks to our health, water resources, environment, farmland & the air we breathe.
    In the last week, both our Federal Member for Page & our State Member for Clarence have used their first Parliamentary speeches of the year to call for a ban on CSG mining in this area, stating that the people of the Northern Rivers, including themselves, do not want the gas industry in this region. I thank & applaud Chris Gulaptis & Kevn Hogan for supporting their community & representing their electorates. Many thanks also to Ben Franklin MLC for speaking out & lets not forget the Richmond Valley Councillors who last year voted 5 to 2 against CSG mining & fracking in this area.
    Now we have all three tiers of Govt supporting the community.
    Mr Henderson, you failed to do your homework & now you need to reconsider your options. You & your supporters who hoped to make a profit at the community’s expense are in a minority in the Northern Rivers………… How about your shareholder’s funds be directed to transform Metgasco into a renewable energy company. “METSOLARCO”. Far more viable & practical, & so much more appropriate for the Northern Rivers.

  3. how can you be a small burden Mr Henderson? Industrialising our rural landscape with 1000 or more gas wells, pipelines, fracking sand quarries and other infrastructure is not a small burden. Bringing in FIFO workers, displacing our existing rural employment and tourism, and adding risk of air and water contamination is not a small burden. Your company has already had several serious breaches and incidents in exploration phase. Liaising with cherry picked community groups is not representative of the community of the region. Thank you Mr Gulaptis, Mr Hogan, Mr Franklin and Ms Tamara Smith for speaking up for the future of the Northern Rivers. Mr George, your silence is deafening.


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