National leader Troy Grant on PEL445 buy back pledge
NSW Nationals leader and Deputy Premier Troy Grant has responded to questions regarding the government's promise to buy back gas exploration licence PEL445.
Mr Grant confirmed that the transfer of ownership of the PEL445 title to AJ Lucas had been suspended, and that negotiations with the holder of the licence were ongoing.
"Efforts to buy back the license are well under way," he said.
"Given the importance of this issue to the community, the NSW Liberals and Nationals Government wants to get this right."
IT'S NO longer a protest - it's a celebration.
That's how Gasfields Free Northern Rivers is framing its latest campaign to hold the NSW Nationals to their big pre-election promise to buy back the massive gas exploration licence PEL445.
A little more than a week before the election, Nationals leader Troy Grant pledged the government would block a planned sale of the PEL by Dart Energy to driller AJ Lucas instead promising to negotiate to buy the licence themselves.
Nothing's been announced since.
And remains unclear just who NSW Resources Minister Anthony Roberts is negotiating with to fulfil the government's promise - it could be AJ Lucas, Dart Energy, or Dart's new UK-based parent company, IGas Energy.
A response is being sought from the offices of Mr Grant and Mr Roberts.
Nevertheless, in the firm hope that the sale will proceed, Gasfields Free will launch a "celebratory countdown" to the June 30 buyback deadline set by the government.
The group will launch the countdown tomorrow in conjunction with the Knitting Nannas regular Thursday knit-in outside Lismore MP Thomas George's office.
It will even feature a countdown clock to be publicly displayed in the Lismore CBD for the month of June.
"It's no longer a protest but a countdown to a unifying event for the region," Gasfields' local coordinator Dean Draper explained.
Mr Draper said the PEL 445 buy back would represent a big step towards a gasfield free region, particularly when National Party MPs, Chris Gulaptis and Upper House MLC Ben Franklin were pushing for an eventual buy out of the Metgasco licences.
"We take our local candidates at their word and the whole community is now counting on Thomas George and Troy Grant to see this election promise fulfilled," Mr Draper said.
"We (also) hope Chris Gulaptis will also encourage the state government to investigate buying back the Metgasco gas licenses that cover most of his electorate of the Clarence before the deadline on June 30.