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Byron Shire
October 18, 2021

CSG fighters celebrate – Metgasgone?

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The anti-gas crew celebrates as the northern rivers is declared gasfield free. Photo David Lowe

Story & photos Cloudcatcher Media

News spread quickly across the northern rivers yesterday that the NSW Government had offered Metgasco $25 million to abandon their remaining PELs in the area.

An impromptu gathering of community members and gasfield activists converged on Riverside Park Lismore at lunchtime to celebrate what they hope to be the end of the threat which has hung over the region for years. The board has already accepted the offer. The final decision rests with Metgasco shareholders.

Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell was glowing and very relieved by the news. ‘The joy, first of all, my first reaction was to let out a holler that I think disturbed the whole council chambers when I heard it on ABC News, and then just the relief, and then a period of reflection.

‘I’ve gone through a lot of emotions. I actually unrolled a couple of the 309 scrolls I’ve got in my office, and I saw Henson Road, and other roads around this place where people even up to three years ago were saying “we don’t want this”, so it feels like a fabulous day.

‘I’m not quite up to the champagne popping yet, because I want the shareholders to agree unanimously as well, but this is fantastic, this is what we’ve all worked for.’

Ian Gaillard was hugging everyone in sight and Mayor Jenny responded with a kiss on the cheek. Photo Tree Faerie.
Ian Gaillard was hugging everyone in sight and Mayor Jenny responded with a kiss on the cheek. Photo Tree Faerie.

Longtime anti-gasfield activist Ian Gaillard was among the jubilant crowd. Ian was excited about the decision and looked as if a great weight had been lifted off his shoulders. ‘Australia may be open for business but I’m open for hugs!’ he said, proceeding to hug everyone in sight, including Mayor Jenny Dowell.

Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan gave credit to the gasfield-free movement for the victory. ‘I am ecstatic, and I think what this community should be very proud of, is this community did this. Every man woman and child who was prepared to say “I do not want this industry in this region for all these reasons”.

‘They stood up, and were heard. This says to the government they need to listen to the community.’

The Bentley Angel. Photo Tree Faerie.
The Bentley Angel. Photo Tree Faerie.

The Bentley Angel, though not in her usual position in the sky on a tripod, was celebrating with strawberries and champagne among the other revellers on the grass. She said she was excited and ecstatic about the news. ‘I’m on cloud nine,’ she said.

Everyone was in high spirits in the park. It was a great chance for many who had fought shoulder to shoulder to clink some glasses in celebration.

Jenny Dowell said the first thing she did was to send an SMS to Thomas George. ‘I don’t know if he’ll respond to me, but I did say “thank you, thank you, thank you.” And I also sent an email to Peter Henderson, and said “thank you”.

‘They were genuine thank yous, because they both had to come to the table on this, but the biggest thank you of all must be to the community. The community stood strong and united through years of this.

‘I think it’s really important that we don’t just drift away. I think it’s a time for a well-organised, united celebration, once we hear that the shareholders have also said “yes”’.

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  1. Metgasco get rewarded with a fortune

    Jenny thinks thats a great idea
    So does Tamara

    This money comes from public funds

    Jenny hasn’t complained
    Neither has Tamara.
    Not one word, not one sniff. They had plenty of chance to comment.

    The elected official has a next of kin privately employed whom will personally benefit from the public funds, the same funds not being spent on homelessness, education, health care, road safety. fire safety, food, etc
    jenny hasn’t said a peep. Instead she sent a loving excited text to the opposition about how wonderful it is, but acknowledged to the media (?!!) he wouldn’t reply . What a soldier. What a spin doctor. What else do you want to tell the papers, Jenny?

    Some politican. Jenny and Tamara are our only local equivalent of Nicola Murray MP from the BBC show The Thick Of It. We prayed for a Malcolm Tucker to put things right. We got Nicola Murray. The analogy is exact and perfect.

  2. There was an opportunity to create a precendent to oppose CSG through people power and send a message across the world giving people inspiration, as they look to see what we did post Bentleigh

    Instead we get mining company that was absolutely on it’s last legs, wheezing and coughing, bailed out with a massive payment of public money

    George isn’t thinking ‘I’ve done a good job, I’ve helped the community, and people are grateful’
    He’s just thinking ”Suckers. Gosh they make it so easy. No resistance. I just see what I like and I take it’

    And now we’ve sent a nice loud clear message that, yes, those protester types will fall for anything
    And mining companies are now certain, that whatever anxiety they collectively had, can be washed away with government payouts. Because there are bent, crooked politicans on one side and spineless, gutless, wishy washy happy happy la la la pollies on the other no willing to actually do anything lest they offend someone. Oh my! We mustnt offend anyone, must we ?

    • I fought hard for, and feel passionately about keeping the Northern Rivers Gasfield Free. I’m no apologist for Metgasco or the National Party.
      I was standing near Jenny Dowell when she said she’d emailed her thanks to Thomas George and Metgasco’s CEO after the buyback offer was announced.
      And I was thinking, what grace, what dignity, even in a moment of triumph to keep playing the ball, not the man. To be civil and polite equally with all sides of the debate. And I thought, how lucky am I have to role models like these. Jenny Dowell. Annie Kia. Boudicca Cerese, Meg Nielsen, Rosemary Joseph and so many other gentle women, with so many strengths, including the power to be truly gracious, whether in defeat or victory.

  3. I look at the 25 million as a refund of donations previously received by the parties!!
    Just such a shame that we tax-payers had to cough up this corporate welfare. But then again, we are to blame for Metga$go failure to launch, so they think it fit and proper to cane us with this “fine”. Bear in mind both old parties were as keen as mustard to frack our community into an industrial nightmare.

    And just watch the disease spread. Adani mine next?

  4. I’m totes in accord with Paula & Johnno’s comments. What a terrible indictment of Democracy in NSW & Oz. How parlous our polly’s (who always have an eye for a cracker or maybe a whole box of them). Why is our community falling to pieces? … lack of adequate funding of essential services & social supports due to rorts like this sopping up government funds and privatization (which amounts to tax money being given to private companies that preference their profits, staff & shareholders over their clients & service users). Wendy Harmer called this elephant in the room out on Q&A last night – Why can’t we afford Health, Education & Social Support anymore (after a heady rush of mining profits has flowed through Oz – a veritable river of gold)?

    On the positive side : yes Johnno, let this wonderful community of caring souls once again stand proud on the world stage and show the way, carry the lamp of Hope & Justice. The Aquarian Spirit lives on.

  5. The general sentiments on the mining boards by the MEL shareholders, is how utterly incompotent , amateur and unprofessional the MEL board are, how they’ve absolutely refused to tell the shareholders anything reliable for a very long time except ‘we’ll get back to you’ , many are calling for a resignation of the MEL board and most appear to not be in support of the buyback and will vote against it as they want their money – the buyback ensures they will not get it

  6. This is the news most of us have been waiting for. I’m surprised that a company that has breached its license conditions is getting a $25 million payout to go away. The Government needs to be a lot firmer with mining companies. They also need to take much larger bonds so that the mining companies clean up the mess that they always leave behind.

    Will Metgasco we required to clean up the leaking test wells that they have already drilled in the Northern Rivers or will the NSW Government be paying for that on top of the $25 million?

    Have they paid a bond that will cover the cost of the clean up?

    This is certainly a day to celebrate but we need to raise the bar a bit higher. So many other regions have environmental disasters due to abandoned mines, etc.

    It’s great that the NSW Government has come good on their pre-election pledge to buy out all the Northern Rivers PEL’s and for that they need to be congratulated!!!!!!! Let’s not underestimate the significance of this decision and let it wash down through all the valleys and farming areas of Australia.

    I feel so proud to be a part of the Northern Rivers community.

    Let the Bentley Effect live on

  7. It is a failure of the political parties in the first place that the community consultation was not done properly, this should have been done before any of the licenses were handed out, everything since then has been a waste of the public piggy bank. The real problem lies in the fact that politicians make decisions on behalf of the population that affect all of us now and into the future. What politician in their right mind could have thought that this region would want unconventional gas production. The political process is long due for change, put simply that means more accountability for spending community assets and more real community consultation and public forums about local infrastructure and development in a responsible way. We can’t just go along with the status quo, if we are to survive as a species.


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The truth doesn’t mind being questioned. A lie does. Margot Hays, Bangalow