Quiet voices get to speak
PROTESTERS choosing to "lock on" or trespass private land at Bentley will face the "full force of the law", NSW Resources Minister Anthony Roberts warned yesterday.
Mr Roberts held a meeting in Casino with Richmond Valley, Lismore and Kyogle councillors about Bentley and the future of the gas industry in the region.
The visit came ahead of major police action shortly expected at Bentley to ensure Metgasco can start its exploratory drilling program.
Mr Roberts said that "extremist groups" had "infiltrated" the anti-gas protest.
These people are not interested in protesting peacefully… it's part of their modus operandi to be involved in intimidation," he said.
In a statement the minister condemned blockade structures including "chains, padlocking and welding gates and laying barriers of concrete and metal spikes on driveways".
"No one condones trespass, no one condones actually putting spikes down to stop people entering lawfully their own gates," he said.
"We'll not have rule by the mob; Metgasco, whether you agree with them or not… has a licence."
Mr Andrews offered one concession; that protesters who joined him in condemning bad behaviour would be more likely to "get a seat at the table" to discuss their concerns about the industry.
Lock the Gate spokesman Ian Gaillard conceded there were some protesters, "well-meaning people", who were "perhaps a little overzealous" in their activities.
Mr Gaillard discussed the issue with Mr Roberts at the press conference outside Richmond Valley council chambers.
But he suggested that the minister's accusation of extremist elements dominating the protest was a diversionary tactic.
"It is a collusion of those forces… forcing through this (unconventional gas) agenda to paint people as extremists," he said.
TWO obscure applications for gas exploration licenses covering Coraki and Woodburn have been refused by the NSW Government.
NSW Resources Minister Anthony Roberts yesterday announced PELAs 127 and 128, applied for by a sole applicant, Mr Tito Trapuzzano, had been knocked back.
Mr Roberts said the applicant had failed to show he had the necessary financial resources or the industry background to be viable.
The refusal was part of a wider audit of existing petroleum licenses and a six-month moratorium on license applications until the government works out a stricter policy.
"We've seen NSW blanketed by petroleum exploration license applications by the previous government with little oversight and little controls," Mr Roberts said.