NSW Police should not be used to break community blockade
MEDIA RELEASE – 29 April 2014
The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham today called on Police Minister Michael Gallacher to resist pressure from coal seam gas company Metgasco to use the NSW Police Force to break a community blockade at Bentley, near Lismore, particularly given the company has close ties to the Coalition government through lobbyists and relatives of MPs.
“The NSW Police Force should not be used as private security to allow a coal seam gas company to force its way into a community that has overwhelmingly rejected the presence of gas fields in the Northern Rivers,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.
“We know pressure is mounting on the government to use the police to break the community blockade, but this pressure should be resisted. The gas company needs to bring the community onside if it wants to drill, rather than use the NSW Police to force its way in to the drill site.
“While Stuart George, the son of local Lismore MP, Thomas George, is the Community Relations Manager for gas company Metgasco and former Deputy Director of the NSW Liberal Party, Richard Shields was employed as a lobbyist for Metgasco, no special favours should be made because of these links.
“We know Metgasco has close ties to the O’Farrell/Baird governments, and this only reinforces the point that the NSW Police Force should not be used to do a favour for a private company.
“Up to 3,000 local people have converged on the drill site in recent weeks to blockade any attempt to move a drill rig into place. There is no way the NSW Police should be used to attempt to force heavy machinery through such a large crowd. The Greens hold serious concerns for public safety if this is attempted.
“The company is attempting to drill one exploration core hole. It is totally impractical to think that the NSW Police will be used as private security to drill the 500 gas wells that Metgasco has said they want to drill. Metgasco must earn a social licence with the local community or simply pull up stumps and go home,” he said.
Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916