News

Revealed: Metgasco's 'missing' letters to ministers

A protester screams at Police at The Doubtful Creek CSG mining site.
A protester screams at Police at The Doubtful Creek CSG mining site. Patrick Gorbunovs

FOUR "missing" letters sent from Metgasco to the NSW Government requesting a stronger police presence at anti-CSG protests at Glenugie last year have been exclusively released.

Four separate ministerial offices failed to hand over the documents last month, following a freedom of information request lodged by NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge over alleged "political interference" in police operations during the 2012-13 blockade.

Their contents can now be revealed.

Throughout the correspondence from December 10, 2012 to February 6, 2013, Metgasco's Peter Henderson requested greater police involvement including a "permanent 24-hour police presence" to stop illegal protest actions hampering the company's operations.

He wrote that "the consequences of Metgasco having to suspend its operations in response to a small, unruly opposition group would be devastating to resource development and energy supply in NSW."

In a letter dated January 23 - at the height of the Glenugie blockade - Mr Henderson took argued that "police's efforts to uphold the law are in effect let down by an excessively lenient legal system".

"From what we have seen… our judiciary show a marked reluctance to do more than release people with good behaviour bonds and without convictions against their records," Mr Henderson wrote.

Civil disobedience activity that disrupts traffic and land access, damages property and involves threats, intimidation and physical violence is not peaceful protest, it is breaking the law

Metgasco CEO, Peter Henderson

This sent a message to the community that law breakers "were heroes"; it did "little to discourage law breaking" and protesters were free to break the law "essentially with impunity".

Mr Henderson alleged that: "…staff have been subjected to death threats, ongoing harassment and intimidation, including tailgating staff when they return to their homes, and bomb hoaxes".

The letter dated February 6, during the height of actions against the relocation of the company's drill rig from Glenugie to Doubtful Creek, featured a witness statement from a Metgasco truck driver which recounted having four "feral" people "rocking the car, getting on the roof jumping up and down… and hurling abuse from all directions", while filming with cameras.

The driver wrote of being subjected to a torrent of verbal abuse and being followed by a white vehicle which tried to "box me in".

Peter Henderson, Metgasco CEO.
Peter Henderson, Metgasco CEO. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

The letters were sent to four ministers; the then Energy Minister Chris Hartcher, Planning Minister Brad Hazzard, Police Minister Michael Gallacher, and Justice Minister Greg Smith.

The ministers' staff could not produce the letters after the Greens David Shoebridge requested them via a GIPA (Government Information Public Access) request.

Mr Shoebridge had taken steps to investigate potential "political interference" by the NSW Government in police operations during the protests in late 2012-early 2013; his investigation followed the dropping of charges against protesters at Glenugie by Lismore magistrate David Heilpern last year, who labelled the charges an "abuse of the processes of the court".

Last week Peter Henderson also provided the NSW Government with new copies of the letters, saying he stood by his decision to appeal to the government at the time.

"Metgasco makes no apologies for bringing the situation to the attention of the NSW Government and requesting support for its lawful activities," he said.

"We were clearly writing to say we felt that law and order should be maintained, which is what the police do. We have a legitimate business, we've been a good citizen of the community for 10 years, and people should be able to have differing opinions without this ongoing intimidation."

Mr Henderson said he opted to release the letters in light of what is expected to be a volatile protest at Bentley next month; saying protest actions there were "a repeat" of the behaviour at Glenugie and Doubtful Creek in 2013.

"Civil disobedience activity that disrupts traffic and land access, damages property and involves threats, intimidation and physical violence is not peaceful protest, it is breaking the law," he said.

Topics:  coal seam gas csg metgasco police



Hearing for cops accused of locking child, 8, in paddy wagon

Two police officers are facing Lismore Local Court today.

Despite an 'influx of relatives', a two-day hearing has been set

RECALL: Plastic pieces found in packaged garlic bread

Assorted garlic breads are being recalled due to plastic pieces found in the product.

Premade garlic bread has been recalled by George Weston Foods.

A nasty facial tumour could destroy this little girl

HORRIFIC TUMOUR: Lennox Head mum Sadie Hunt is hoping to help this little Kenyan girl Judy Kwamboka by raising money for needed surgery.

Like all 13-year-olds Judy Kwamboka should be noticing boys

Local Partners

Value of safety is $250,000 in the community

NSW government has made grants available to Clarence and Richmond Valley councils and local community organisations for projects to improve safety.


Ahoy! The Wooden Boat Festival is on its way

Members of the Richmond River Rowing & Sailing Club admire Mark Pierce's boat Northbridge Junior, ahead of the 2017 Wooden Boat Festival on Australia Day. Back row, from left, is Mark Pierce, Jacqueline Heap, Commodore Phil Robbins and James Kalaf. At front, from left, is Tony Pullyn, George Renault, David Bowler, Geoff Benson and Maurice Renault.

Australia Day event a must-see for fans of timber craft

Northern Rivers murder mystery takes out award at Flickerfest

MURDER MYSTERY: Northern Rivers young actress Yasmin Honeychurch in a still from the award-wiining film In a Canefield by Emily Avila and Coralie Tapper.

Finding'little star' brought film shoot to the region.

Join the challenge to Live Life Large this Friday

Deborah and Neil Marks have been inspired by Jodie's Inspiration to Live Life Large.

Business owner's invitation to join her on Jodie's Inspiration hike

50 Shades actress on why she hates the film

Dornan and Johnson’s frequent sex scenes were ‘awkward’ to film. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

Jamie Dornan doesn’t blame you for hating 50 Shades

Chris Hemsworth’s X-rated compliment to former co-star

Australian actor Chris Hemsworth poses on the red carpet for the European premiere of the film 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' in London on April 21, 2015.

THOR star once paid former Home and Away actress a lewd compliment.

'I can't keep my mouth shut any longer'

Singer George Michael.

George Michael’s cousin blasts singer’s boyfriend Fadi Fawaz.

Fresh faces: NCIS gets a shake up with new cast members

The new cast of NCIS, from left, Rocky Carroll, Pauley Perrette, Sean Murray, David McCallum, Brian Dietzen, Wilmer Valderrama, Emily Wickersham, Mark Harmon, Duane Henry and Jennifer Esposito.

THREE new characters join naval drama for season 14.

First the Onesie, now an Xbox One S inflatable controller

Fancy an inflatable Xbox One S controller?

Inflatable controller 'perfect sidekick' for Australia Day party

Sarah Harris: Here’s what Amber Sherlock should’ve done

Studio 10 and Shark Tank presenter Sarah Harris.

STUDIO 10 host says Sherlock could’ve avoided the subsequent uproar.

LAND VALUES: Figures reveal how much your property is worth

Land values in Ballina have increased over the past 12 months.

Property in one Northern Rivers town has increased by almost 14%

6 new estates to build a home on the Northern Rivers

Land estates are available now on the Northern Rivers with some stages opening up soon.

Looking for a place to put down roots and raise a family?

Historical home leaves family's hands after 75 years

SALE CONFIRMED: The Gympie Regional   Realty team which sold the Ramsey property are (back) Mel Gastigar, Dorothy Palmer and Margaret Cochrane, with (front) home seller Terri-Jayne Ramsey.

Ramsey family played a huge role in Gympie's growth.

Pat Rafter's $18m Coast home proves hot property

PAT'S PAD: The Sunshine Beach home of tennis ace Pat rafter is on the market for a record price.

"It's a record for our company and for the Sunshine Coast.''

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!