Lismore's vote 'a fraudulent poll' declares gas boss
METGASCO chief executive Peter Henderson has claimed the September 8, CSG referendum was fraudulent.
In an interview recorded by local media and posted on YouTube, Mr Henderson is asked about the level of support in the Lismore LGA for CSG mining and reminded the result of the referendum was nearly 87% against CSG mining.
"We need to be very careful about that. That is quite a misleading statement. That poll... was, I think, a fraudulent poll in the sense that it presented... an argument for that was jobs, jobs, jobs, and an argument against that was environmental destruction, health impacts, etcetera, etcetera, which is quite incorrect," Mr Henderson said.
"If I hadn't worked in the industry for 36 years and I didn't know about oil and gas and that was the only information I was presented, I would have voted no, because the information was fundamentally flawed".
Voter turnout on the day was 84.38% with an informal vote rate of 2.80%. Of the 25,595 voters who participated in the non-compulsory plebiscite, 86.86% voted in the negative according to the NSW Electoral Commission.
The question asked on the referendum was "Do you support coal seam gas (CSG) exploration and production in the Lismore City Council area?"
The NSW Electoral Commission confirmed on September 15 that the question was not passed.
Mr Henderson's comments were made after the December 6 community meeting where Planning and Infrastructure Minister Brad Hazzard and local MP Thomas George were heckled by angry protesters.
Mr Henderson said the September 8 referendum was not a compulsory poll, and "a lot of people chose not to vote, so (the result) is essentially an 87% of those who were prepared to vote."
Mr Henderson said that "SCU did an exit survey and they found that people were prepared to change their mind if they were represented with information to show that (CSG mining) was safe, and that is exactly what the Government has done."
"If people want to take time and consider it without the emotion and the hysteria which has been developed they would see a very positive story," he said.
Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell said Mr Henderson's comments were "quite odd."
"To claim the poll is fraudulent seems quite odd and casts a judgment on the voters of Lismore LGA who have clearly expressed their view.
"My question would be that if the poll produced a better result for CSG proponents, would Mr Henderson claim it was fraudulent?" said the Mayor.
Cr Dowell said that the positive and negative cases were prepared by the proponents and opponents to CSG mining, and that both sides believed their opposite side's case was questionable and unproven, but "the council did not modify or provide any input into the cases."
14 December 2010: Lismore City Council support the request of the NSW Farmers Association for a moratorium on all coal seam gas (CSG) mining in NSW.
17 August 2011: Metgasco applied to carry out "non-invasive seismic data acquisition work" within the road reserve of Bungabee, Rock Valley and Chelmsford Rds. Consent was granted by the council on September 1.
10 November 2011: Council withdrew permission given to Metgasco to conduct seismic data acquisition work.
24 November 2011: Mayor Dowell expressed to Metgasco the concerns of the council and the community in relation to CSG. Metgasco provided additional information regarding the proposed work.
13 December 2011: Metgasco resubmitted a request to undertake seismic data acquisition work in the area. Council refused access to any companies for any coal seam gas activity on council owned and operated land. The council imposed a moratorium on all coal seam gas on council owned and operated land.
10 April 2012: Council resolved to conduct a poll in conjunction with the Local Government elections to determine community support for a ban on Coal Seam Gas exploration and mining in the LGA.
12 June 2012: R question agreed to, and submitted to the NSW Electoral Commission.
8 September 2012: As part of the 2012 Local Government Election, Lismore City Council asked the approved poll question.
9 October 2012: Council resolves to write to the NSW Premier, ministers and local MPs to inform them of the results of the poll and urge them to take steps to prevent CSG activity in the Lismore LGA