Stop laughing! Metgasco refers teen's April 1 prank to ASIC
UPDATE 1.30pm: FINALLY, in case there was any doubt, the author of the fake Metgasco press release has issued a statement spelling out that it was an April Fools joke.
Kudra Falla-Ricketts, 16, has just sent a statement to all the journalists and media outlets the fake press release was originally sent to. It reads (including the absence of capital letters):
"just writing to confirm that the media release i sent from my school email on tuesday was an april fools joke not intended to be taken seriously by anyone.
APRIL 2: IT WAS meant to make people laugh - a fake Metgasco media release penned on a whim by a Lismore secondary school student announcing Metgasco was leaving the Northern Rivers - but not everyone took it in the spirit of April Fools' Day.
The statement, which proclaimed "we won't go where we're not wanted - Metgasco", announced a full withdrawal by the company, apologising for the "stress" caused to Northern Rivers residents and congratulating them on their "peaceful and united" enthusiasm for remaining gasfield-free.
It went even further, promising Metgasco would begin consultation on a "solar-thermal power plant near Casino".
The April Fools' prank may have looked the part - using the Metgasco logo image, and emailed to local media outlets - but it was whipped up by 16-year-old Kudra Falla-Ricketts, 15 minutes before school.
"I didn't even read through it - there were a few spelling mistakes," Kudra said.
"I didn't expect anyone to believe it; I just thought it was funny."
Metgasco Peter Henderson did not take the joke lightly however, and reported the matter to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.
In a statement, Mr Henderson said the company understood the bogus media release might be considered "no more than a schoolgirl's April Fool's joke".
"However, it was fraudulent… it could have caused serious damage to Metgasco's share price, resulting in innocent investors losing money.
"It will be for ASIC to decide what action is required."
Yesterday Metgasco's share price did not appear to respond significantly, falling by 1% from 9.5c to 9.3c.
Kudra said "nobody was actually supposed to take it seriously" and she "didn't think anyone would actually believe it".
Kudra runs her school's environment team, which has been raising money for a campaign against dredging the Great Barrier Reef, and is active in the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.
She's also looking forward to "locking on" at Bentley.
"I've got my chain in the car… Dad wouldn't let me do it until I was 16," she said.
Kudra's dad, activism academic and anti-gas strategist Aidan Ricketts, said "the apple obviously doesn't fall far from the tree".
Kudra also apologised to people who may have been disappointed the statement was fake.
"It's a lot of people's dream... I hope I didn't make anyone upset."
The only thing she regretted was using her school email to send the release.