Peaceful protest in progress

Protesters at the Bentley Blockade this morning, April 7, 2014.
Protesters at the Bentley Blockade this morning, April 7, 2014.

IT WAS business as usual at the Bentley campsite over the weekend, as protestors settled in for another week of waiting.

While whispers abound that this week would not be the week, organisers maintained they have sufficient measures in place to detect and respond to any changes.

The Bentley camp was on "orange" alert at the weekend, a downgrade from previous week's "red" or "high" alert that saw 2000 protestors flock to site before daybreak on Monday.

A big focus at the weekend was the continued training of gasfield free supporters in non-violent means of protest.

Simon Clough was one of the speakers at the three-hour non-violent training workshop on Saturday.

"The point of the workshops is for people to understand that it's the court of public opinion that will win this," he said.

"When the public sees protestors behaving in a peaceful, positive way, but making it non-negotiable that Metgasco, in this case, is not going to have access, that's very powerful and that's what we're aiming for."

GAINING RESPECT: Speaking at a workshop on non violent protesting Adam Guise, at the Bentley CSG site on Saturday.
GAINING RESPECT: Speaking at a workshop on non violent protesting Adam Guise, at the Bentley CSG site on Saturday. Doug Eaton

Mr Clough said a main focus of the workshops was to remind people to be self-aware and keep their behaviour in check.

"The non-violence is not negotiable and that's what we've been training people in," he said.

"We've been doing role-plays with situations that arrive, challenging situations and helping people understand how they can work with those situations in terms of their body language, their tone of voice, what sort of situations they might expect at a blockade and how they can respond non-violently."

Lock the Gate coordinator Ian Gaillard said the increasing number of Northern Rivers people flowing into Bentley would ensure the state and federal governments would "hear the voice of the Northern Rivers."

"Whether they heed this, whether Mr O'Farrell, Mr Roberts and the police minister heed this, remains to be seen," he said.

"They must know that they cannot ignore our democratic right to say we reject all gas mining in the Northern Rivers.

"We fully support the people of the Pilliga and Gloucester and those in the Sydney water catchment and we demand that our politicians look beyond the electoral cycle of three or four years and look towards the future of our grandchildren and their grandchildren."

Tai Dwyer of Mullumbimby with a peace sign statue at the CSG camp on Saturday.
Tai Dwyer of Mullumbimby with a peace sign statue at the CSG camp on Saturday.

Cattle farmer reveals: 'Why I'm protesting'

LIKE the thousands of other gasfield free supporters who have made their way to the Bentley site in recent weeks to show their support, Len Boyle's motives are close to home.

For the Goolmangar cattle farmer who owns 500 acres of land, it's about preserving a legacy that has been in his family for over 108 years.

"I believe if the coal seam gas gets into our local valleys, our land will be all but worthless," he said.

I've been a National Party member for 40 years, but the state politicians are not listening to the people

"We've spent a lifetime paying for this land, that's our superannuation, and if we can't sell it at a good price it's not going to be good.

"We are reliant on Goolmangar creek and if they get into that valley, it could destroy our water supply."

Mr Boyle said he had a great amount of respect for the thousands of people who have taken the time to support the cause, but he is disappointed in how the state politicians have responded to the issue.

"I've been a National Party member for 40 years, but the state politicians are not listening to the people."

Mullumbimby local and director of the Federal Community Childcare Centre, Mandala Diehl, is just one example of the amount of time and effort people are willing to put in to support the blockade.

As well as working full-time, Ms Diehl has managed to dedicate "only" 24 hours to the cause in the last week, including two night vigils starting at 3am and 4am.

"People are here in the morning and they go to work and they're juggling both," she said.

"(There's an) amazing commitment from people all over. It's a really beautiful space to be to see people coming together.

"You do find the balance, but the bottom line is what's really important."

Topics:  bentley blockade, csg protest

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