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Metgasco gone: shareholders accept govt buyback

The Bentley Angel. Photo Tree Faerie.

The Bentley Angel. Photo Tree Faerie.

Metgasco shareholders have voted to accept the NSW Government’s $25 million CSG licence buyback offer which means the northern rivers will remain gasfield free and protected by community.

The results, which were published on the ASX website at 2.02pm were closer than expected.

The state government’s offer, made last month, was endorsed by the company’s board of directors but had to be approved by shareholders in order to be valid.

That vote was taken today at Metgasco’s delayed annual general meeting.

The motion received 152,468,468 ‘yes’ votes, 108,564,386 ‘no’ votes and 634,075 abstentions.

A group of farmers and community members from the northern rivers travelled to Sydney yesterday to attend today’s general meeting and to witness the vote and the final act in a long and difficult journey to remain gasfield free.

Gasfield Free Northern Rivers Regional Coordinator, Dean Draper told Echonetdaily the mood among them was ‘ecstatic’.

‘This is something we’ve looked forward to for many years,’ he said.

‘Finally some closure and an end to the torment and fear that has pervaded the northern rivers since this company started mining for coal seam gas here.

‘This gas mining company never achieved a social licence here, they have never been welcome, our community has demonstrated loudly and clearly in many surveys, marches and actions that this dangerous industry is not acceptable here under any circumstances.

‘Taking the buyout deal was the best way out for Metgasco, they would never have been able to operate here. It’s just a pity they didn’t take our advice and earlier as they would have saved themselves and the government a lot of money.

‘Finally the people of the northern rivers can get on with their lives. The community will again have the confidence in the safety and long term sustainability of the region which is sure to fuel a lot of investment and growth in our region.’ Mr Draper said.

According to Mr Draper, Metgasco MD Peter Henderson announced to the meeting that the NSW Government had indicated it would not provide the company with police support if it pushed ahead with its northern rivers licences.

‘This news upset shareholders,’ Mr Draper said.

He added that some shareholders wanted reassurance that the government would not reissue the licences to another company.

AAP reported that Metgasco plans to use the proposed $25 million government compensation to acquire oil and gas assets from distressed sellers.

‘It is our expectation that in the first six months of 2016, distressed sellers will continue to bring assets to the market,’ Mr Henderson told shareholders.

‘There are many approaches we will consider, from acquisitions, to farm ins and mergers,’ he added.

Ballina MP thanks community

NSW Greens Ballina MP Tamara Smith is thanking all who contributed to the campaign for a coal seam gas free northern rivers and has heralded today’s news as recognition of the region’s ‘people power’.

‘The deal has been sealed and our community is finally being delivered the protection against invasive gas fields it has so loudly called for,’ Ms Smith said.

‘We saw unprecedented community opposition to the industrialisation of our region across all sectors of society- doctors, nurses, teachers, farmers and artists, all in unanimous refrain.’

‘I too stood with the protectors at Bentley, Lock the Gate, Gasfield Free Northern Rivers, our Knitting Nannas and the tens of thousands in our community as we demanded an end to this toxic industry.’ Ms Smith said.

‘Following Bentley- the battle continued at the ballot box.

The March state election on the north coast was clearly a referendum on coal seam gas, and to all those who spoke with a green vote, you have been heard.’

‘It is disappointing the future of our pristine environment has been on a precipice at the mercy of a mining company rather than being protected by government legislation.

‘But the power of our tight-knit community propelled together by a common cause has prevailed and we’ve set a precedent for others challenging environmental threats in their own backyard,’ Ms Smith said.

‘This is a watershed moment: 2015 will go down in history as the year we established a coal seam gas free northern rivers.’

Lesson to Santos, AGL, coal

Meanwhile Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said ‘the Metgasco fiasco was a lesson about the importance of earning a social licence to operate’.

‘The Metgasco fiasco highlights the importance of earning a social licence to operate in a community.  Metgasco patently failed to do this and the shareholders have paid the price,’ Mr Buckingham said.

‘Neither AGL in Gloucester, nor Santos in the North West have earned a social licence from those communities and should heed what has happened to Metgasco when contemplating the future of their coal seam gas projects.

‘New coal mines also do not have a social licence, with significant community opposition as well as widespread concern about the impact on the climate.

‘The goals of the Paris climate agreement will only be met if we phase out fossil fuels and that clearly means new fossil fuel industries, such as coal seam gas, must be prohibited,’ he said.


3 responses to “Metgasco gone: shareholders accept govt buyback”

  1. Joe Monks says:

    Careful guys.

    This could just be the pea under the thimble trick.

    Take your eye of it and it pops up somewhere else.

    Next it will be mining in National Parks disguised as old mine site reparation.

    Keep a careful eye on Bundjalung National Park in coming months. Black Rocks camping ground, Jerusalem Creek and The Gap Road are set to be exposed to 5 years of quarrying noise, dust and 40 tonne double trailer trucks.

    This is a situation where responsibility for National Parks and the Environment is under the same Liberal Minister and current planning policy favours business interests over the environment.

  2. Raucous Reg says:

    Congratulations to all the good pholk of the Northern Rivers who opposed this manifestation of greed-driven Ayn Randism!

  3. Rachel says:

    It’s not a celebration. It’s highly offensive
    Fiasco don’t deserve that money. There was noway metgasco were going to get
    their foot in the door again, and they knew it.
    Plus, they were going bankrupt. They were not given compensation,
    they were bailed out to keep them afloat so that whatsisfaces son
    could keep his job
    This is not the end . This is a setback. The fight will need to pick up and
    continue. Aside from the waste of 25mil of OUR money, now we need to work even harder
    even harder. We should not be celebrating. There ARE NO ASSURANCES.

    Whats most disturbing is Jenny and Tamara and thelock thegate mob allsuddenly became best of
    mates with the Nationals mob. Instead of being THE OPPOSITION suddenly
    it was all smiles and Jenny texting thankyou ‘but I’m sure he won’t reply’
    and generally not being politicians at all but something like sunday school
    teachers. Do you know what being in the OPPOSITION party means?
    You should have made a noise, made a racket, stolen the spotlight as an opportunity
    to complain about corruption, nepotism, 25 mil not rescuing homeless
    people, about the bills that the nationals recently blocked that were meant to remove CSG
    I feel utterly betrayed. Because my people didnt stand up for me at the 11th hour

    I thibk it’s no surprise the nationals are in power. See what they get away with? One must
    be ruthless, in politics, no matter what side you are on.
    The nationals dont have any opposition. They’ve just got Nicola Murray to contend
    with…
    .

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