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Byron Shire
December 5, 2023

Outcry against Metgasco’s north coast plans

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The community may be returning to the Bentley Blockade this morning after the junior energy minor announced plans to force its way back into the region. Photo Marie Cameron
The community may be returning to the Bentley Blockade this morning after the junior energy minor announced plans to force its way back into the region. Photo Marie Cameron

Politicians from the Greens to the Nationals have responded emphatically against gas miner Metgasco’s announcement that it plans to use the courts to force an unwelcome return to the northern rivers.

The company announced yesterday that it had unilaterally quit talks with the state government and would: sue the government over the suspension of its Bentley licence; recommence plans to drill at Bentley; demand a judicial review into regaining its expired PEL 426; and seek to activate its promised Casino production licence PPLA9.

Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham immediately slammed the announcement, saying the company was ‘belligerent’ and ‘did not have a social licence to operate in the northern rivers’.

‘It’s outrageous and belligerent that this company would sue taxpayers for compensation and threaten to resume drilling when their social licence to operate in the northern rivers has so comprehensively been rejected,’ Mr Buckingham said.

‘If Metgasco go back to Bentley, then the community will be there to meet them in large numbers and with determination to protect the land and water,’ he added.

‘It is not up to taxpayers to bailout this company who have comprehensively failed to gain a social licence to operate and they should not be trying to extort the NSW Government.

But he said the government had ‘no one but themselves to blame for this huge mess.’

‘The government and Shooters Party recently voted down a Greens bill that would have banned coal seam gas in the northern rivers,’ he added.

Mr Buckingham called on Lismore MP Thomas George to speak up on the matter.

‘He promised to have the licence cancelled by 30 June 2015, yet here we have Metgasco forcing their way back to Bentley.’

At the end of the day, you can’t factor into your business plan having to call on police to act as security for your proposal.  – Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis

Although there was no word from Mr George, Clarence Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis has spoken out about the company’s plans to return to the northern rivers and the expectation that it would receive police protection.

‘Mining laws across the state are being reviewed to ensure that it’s not just the value of the resource that’s given weight in any approval process,’ he told ABC radio this morning.

‘I think the best option for all parties is for Metgasco to come back to the negotiating table,’ he added.

‘At the end of the day, you can’t factor into your business plan having to call on police to act as security for your proposal. It’s not the we do business in this country, so Metgasco has to have a look at its own operation and the viability of actually undertaking that activity in the northern rivers,’ Mr Gulaptis said.

Gasfield Free Northern Rivers spokesperson Aidan Ricketts said the company’s plan could backfire.

‘They might hope to force the government’s hand to give them compensation more quickly but they could well force the government’s hand into cancelling Metgasco’s licences entirely with very limited compensation,’ he said.

Ballina MP Tamara Smith again reaffirmed her determination to stand by the community on the barricades if it came to that.

‘Should that drill rig come anywhere near our beautiful northern rivers rest assured I will be standing on the frontline with the community at Bentley.’


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  1. There is a submerged agenda at play here.

    Liberal politicians see public assets and money as sources of wealth for their mates who backed them into government. That includes mining companies.

    After a suitable display pf intent amd a few confrontations with protesters government will back off.

    Court challenges will suck money out of the public purse to benefit barristers and solicitors and at the end of the process Metgasco will be compensated out the public purse because government gave it a licence to spend money on exploration.

    You guessed it. Big business loses nothing and Metgasco CEO keeps his 6 figure salary.

    Sharpen those needles Knitting Nannas!

  2. I,along with many thousands of Northern Rivers residents, will be standing with Tamara Smith against Metgasco returning.
    To allow this arrogant company to return to Bentley would be a dangerous move both physically and politically. Our representative, who promised to stop unconventional gas mining in the northern rivers has done nothing – his promises worthless as usual.
    Come on you coaliton politicians – there is much more at stake than royalties. Australian coalition politicians seem to be the only people left in the world who refuse to accept that climate change is a critical threat and the last thing we need is more fossil fuel exploration. And there are other more important values than money.

  3. Bring it on

    This is a classic Aikido or Judo moment
    The greater the blind bulldog kamikaze force rushing headlong towards its own demise, the easier we will bring them down.
    What little Petey and his pals fail to realise is 1. how handicapped they already are, on a variety of levels 2. Bentleigh was already a massive precedent. This is not about Northern Rivers vs Metgasco. This is about a worldwide influence. What we managed with Bentleigh sent shock waves of anxiety through the CSG industry, affecting everyones share price and was successful as a hearts and minds operation globally. Bring it on, I say. We we stand our ground peacefully – without force – simply standing our ground is all we have to do – we will have an ever greater impact on the global CSG industry. This is a priceless opportunity

    The world of Protecters united against CSG are not the only ones that consider this kind of infantile tantrum throwing outragous. Metgascos peers in the industry are currently watching in amazement, shaking their heads and scratching uncomfortably. This can only end in tears. Talk about sprinting out onto thin ice covering a frozen pond!!

    There is nothing strategic or intelligent about this operation. Considering all the skills it must take to get to CEO level, Petey would make a terrible chess player

    What continues to leave me bewildered, is the number of people with such incredible influence, eg Byron Shire Council and Metgasco, just for example, that are so lacking in concepts like personal responsiblity, so lacking in self awareness, and fail to grasp the extraordinary responsiblity they are carry. Most of all, I’m so shocked they don’t know what karma is! Do they really think there is no such thing as CONSEQUENCES for our actions??????? i am just so speechless. It’s not a good time in history to be racking up bad karma for yourself and your descendants

    PS I’m just waiting for the metgasco employed trolls to start writing positive CSG comments here

    • So much anger against CSG, but guess what? Bentleigh was not and is not a CSG well.

      A lot of people have a genuine concern about what is happening in the area, but misinformation from the Greens has hijacked the debate.


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