Lismore meeting a barometer of betrayal (photo: K Ausburn)

Lismore meeting a barometer of betrayal (photo: K Ausburn)

Lismore meeting a barometer of betrayal

The recent visit of the NSW planning minister Hazzard and his departmental bureaucrats to Lismore was always going to be a fiery one. There’s an important context in Lismore. This city voted 87% against coal seam gas mining in September 2012, and three days later the NSW government renewed expired licences and gave one of the first approvals for csg production to gas company Metgasco, that operates exclusively in the Northern Rivers region.

The Northern rivers community are justifiably outraged at this failure of democracy and are not the kind of community to take it lying down. They have been busy building a social movement of immense popularity. Over 70 communities are now enlisted as gasfield free communities, and over 12000 households have been surveyed and consistently return results of over 90% opposition to csg. If writing letters, meeting with politicians and going to meetings was going to work then the government would have backed away long ago, but the community knows the government is deeply committed to this part of the fossil fuel industry.

A lot has been made of some reported events outside after the meeting where politicians were allegedly jostled, but this was a public meeting and this was an angry public in the raw. Sure there’s a strong core of a very organised movement there, but everybody knows you can’t control everybody. The meeting was rowdy but it was also an incredible example of a community taking back power. The minister had clearly intended a talking tour. It’s the sort of format where the speakers up front control the microphones and the agenda and who gets to ask questions.  It’s an easy format for an experienced operator to manipulate. The community was determined to break this power.

The community did have some strategies in place, within the first 10 minutes they had successfully gained control of the mikes and delivered them to local indigenous descendants who damned the politicians in no uncertain terms. This was followed by the delivery of scores of gasfield free road declarations from communities all over the region.  Then the questions flowed. Intelligent penetrating questions from scientists, farmers, business people and ordinary folk of all kinds. There were no less than 6 PhDs amongst those who asked questions, and also some very powerful emotional questions from other members of the crowd. Yes it was noisy but above all it was a powerful example of a community that will not be patronised by arrogant pollies. In an ideal world it would have been a few decibels quieter at times, and the bureaucrats would have been more audible in their evasive responses, but there were 800 angry community members in a hall with a minister who they see as the chief enabler of their betrayal.

Despite the exaggerated claims of jostling the police have reported that the crowd had a right to protest and there were no reportable incidents.

This community never rests, the day before the meeting work had been stopped all day at a blockade near Grafton, where a locked on protester prevented work on a drill site. This blockade is ongoing. Nonviolent resistance is hard work. The anger in this region is palpable and if it were not for the presence of an organised political movement offering some skilled leadership, the outcomes would be far worse.

The battle for the Northern Rivers is a seminal one for all of NSW.  The region has a long track record of powerful social movements and nonviolent direct action, and is now organised with the largest and most mainstream movement in memory. The government is pushing for a showdown, and has pushed Metgasco, a relatively small player in the world of mining, into the position of sacrificial pawn in a larger play. Whilst the larger resource companies look on, this embattled company that is almost entirely reliant for its survival on reserves in the northern rivers region, takes on the battle. For Metgasco it’s a fight to the death, for the community it is as well.

The problem for the company and the government is that this movement is ubiquitous. No matter how many blockades they overrun with police and trucks, no matter how many wells they manage to install against the odds, there will be another blockade at the next site because every community will come out to defend its patch.

The people of the northern rivers are not likely to ever surrender. Metgasco on the other hand appears to have been showing the strain in its share price.

You can check the share price story for yourself at this link  http://markets.smh.com.au/apps/qt/quote.ac?section=charts&sy=smh&code=CFX#topOfChartsAnchor

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7 Responses to Lismore meeting a barometer of betrayal

  1. Poodle says:

    great commentary. great community. well done Lismore.

  2. Scott O'Keeffe says:

    “The battle for the Northern Rivers is a seminal one for all of NSW.”

    Actually, the battle is a seminal one for all of Australia. Here in ultra-conservative Queensland, we cling to hope for change by watching the example being set by people in Northern Rivers.

  3. Chooks against GAS says:

    <(' ) We Chooks are so clucking proud of our beautiful rainbow region, its diversity of flora, fauna and a multitude of intelligent humans prepared to protect her for future generations of our chicks and baby humans.

  4. Neil says:

    CSG? NO WAY,THERE IS A BETTER WAY. By Neil Howe

    The fossil fuel mining industries consistently argue that the world has reached peak oil production therefore if we are to progress we must mine remaining coal and gas deposits, there is no other way. Coal Seam Gas mining is coming to Victoria, it is already seriously affecting rural communities in NSW and Queensland.
    Recent advances however, in both science and communication, have led to an explosion of new energy inventions. There are now at least a dozen solutions about to enter the market and the fossil fuel miners are scrambling as fast as they can to develop infrastructure and lock in long term sales contracts in a volatile market. An astute shareholder would be well advised to consider where the future really lies.
    Leading the new technology is Low Energy Nuclear Reactors or cold fusion. There are more than a dozen groups developing LENR including Star Scientific based in Sydney. Cold Fusion is an inexpensive, clean, safe system that produces enough heat to drive steam turbines without any radiation waste, pollution or danger of explosions. In Italy, Andrea Rossi’s low temperature E-Cat reactor generates 400 degrees C and is now being manufactured for domestic hot water heating. Coupled with a Cyclone Waste Heat Engine it could generate 8kW of electricity enabling a household to get off the grid.
    Rossi has also developed a commercial high temperature reactor that generates in excess of 800 degrees C, enough to replace coal and gas heating plants in steam turbine electricity generators. These high temperature reactors are currently in the final testing phase at Bologna University and National Instruments in Italy. The results are to be published in the Journal of Nuclear Physics this September and production rollout could begin as early as 2013.
    The fossil fuel industry is well aware of these developments and currently preying on public and political ignorance to reap what they can as soon as possible. In an article recently published in The Journal of Petroleum Technology it was stated, “If proven to work, what impact would LENR have on the petroleum industry? It is difficult to say for certain, but it would undoubtedly be significant. The vast preponderance of oil is used for transportation and heating which would now be competing with LENR. While there would still be need for petroleum chemicals and other applications, collectively these end uses represent less than about 20% of each barrel. Natural gas would not fare much better; its main applications are heating and electricity. If LENR works the impact on the petroleum industry, power generation and coal industry would be enormous.”
    Another technology about to enter the public arena is the Magnetic-Gravitational system and Plasma Reactors developed by nuclear physicist Mehran Keshe. Based in Belgium, Keshe has published three books outlining his new technology and formed the Keshe Foundation, which offers this knowledge to all nations for the benefit of humanity. The new technologies promise unlimited cheap energy, air travel and medical systems that will alleviate many of the worlds’ problems.

    On September 21st all nations, including Australia, had been invited to send representatives to a conference where this knowledge was offered for development. It has been internationally patented to prevent suppression or domination by any one country or corporation. Following a preliminary conference last April however, a notice has been posted by Keshe on the Foundations website stating, “With the presidential decree signed into law by President Obama earlier this week, the use by other governments of the space technologies developed by the Keshe Foundation and others similar has now become a criminal offence. This means that from this week scientists cannot release their technology to the public or to any governments any more unless it is for use in war and beneficial to Western arms manufacturing nations. We do not accept such a castration of science and we ask the United States of America’s government for clarification of this decree by the White House.” Since this notice, all nations of the world were formally invited to receive free of charge all the blue prints and patents developed by the Keshe Foundation and on November 15th, 2012 the Australian ambassador received these documents.
    Suppression of free energy systems has been occurring since the days of Nikola Tesla. Australia also has a history of ignoring or discrediting new energy inventions. Radio presenter Alan Jones recently addressed The National Press Club in Canberra where he displayed a huge list of ex state and federal senior politicians and public servants who were now employed by the mining lobbies.
    Faced with this level of opposition Australian inventors also have an enormous battle to get their devices to the people. In the seventies Yul Brown developed a hydroxy gas fuel cell, in the nineties the Joe Cell was invented, both could run a car on water, both inventions were discredited and ignored. More recently James Kwok, Queensland inventor of the Hidro Bouyancy Power Generator was forced to take his invention off shore to Malaysia, the Cycclone Magnetic Engine developers were also discredited and forced to take their invention to the USA.
    The tide is changing however, with several companies in Australia and overseas about to begin manufacture of Magnetic Engines. PlasmERG has also developed a Plasma Transition Engine that operates on a mixture of inert gases, uses no fuel and produces no waste. The PlasmERG engine will be available for purchase after 11th December this year. Both of these motor types can immediately be coupled to a generator to produce electricity or fitted into a vehicle.
    In light of these new developments it is imperative that a moratorium on all future CSG and coal mining expansion be put in place so that these near future scenarios can be fully investigated. The promise of employment in the new technology fields far out way the meager promises of the fossil fuel mining industry. Is it really worth irreparably damaging our environment, one of the great food bowls of the world, for such short-term economic gain?

    For further information see
    http://ecat.com/ , http://www.pesn.com , http://www.keshefoundation.org, http://www.plasmerg.com/

  5. Denise Ewin says:

    Just saw a report on NSW ABC news with an explanation why the NSW Aboriginal Land Council has made so many applications across the state. Also showed some footage of the meeting in Lismore and Barry O’Farrell condemning the action at the meeting. Interesting. Saturday 8 December.

  6. Kerrie Pimm says:

    If Brad Hazzard wanted to be treated “nicely”, and clapped and applauded at the last meeting, he should just have said “O.k., we have heard you, we’re won’t do any more C.S.G. mining her or anywhere else in the world”. But he didn’t.

  7. Don Blake says:

    Following is a letter sent to Minister and local member Thomas George, after my attendance at the meeting in question.

    Mr. Hazzard,

    Thank you for your courageous entry to and attendance at what must have been a very daunting event in Lismore yesterday. I was one of the participants and was surprised by the depth of feeling on show. I appreciate that a less impassioned community meeting might have provided a more appropriate environment in which you, Mr George, and the other senior public servants could present your case; however, I believe you have underestimated the anger surrounding CSG exploration in this and other communities throughout NSW. As the local Indigenous representatives stated at the meeting, this is our Country. Not real estate, not an industrial site, not a place for digging, drilling, and fracking, but a place where our souls reside.

    The angry people at the meeting were people who feel that their concerns are not being heard, their legal rights have been trashed, that our democracy is a joke. Many of those in attendance were people who voted for the O’Farrell government believing that you would bring an end to Coal Seam Gas exploration and mining.

    The idea that a drilling rig and its crew can gain access to my property and change completely and forever my relationship with this place is an extraordinary and shocking violation. What you, Mr. George and your Department Heads at the table – all of whom seemed less than expert in their field – fail to understand is that these are places where we have invested time, money, love, hard work, commitment and dedication, in my case regenerating a property ruined by decades of cattle production. Your government and Byron Shire Council have zoned my property HCV (High Conservation Value, with protected riparian areas and E2 and E3 zones), restricting what it is I can and cannot do here.

    I accept those restrictions as being in the best interests of myself and my community… only to have you tell me that now a mining company can come onto the place and put at risk all that lies on and under my land, using practices that are known to poison, pollute, and contribute climate change. Why would anyone in your position allow the incredibly risky CSG industry to perpetrate its dodgy practices in one of the most productive, fertile green spaces in Australia? Particularly given that NSW has so many alternative, sustainable, non-polluting forms of energy production, your support of CSG beggars belief.

    Mr. Hazzard, please don’t let the shortsighted, greedy bully boys in the top end of town get away with their nefarious practices. As you have witnessed, many of us in the Northern Rivers don’t care for the economic “benefits” of mining more fossil fuels at the expense of our environment, our Country, our homes. You were a science teacher once, and have been Shadow Minister for the Environment; you must know that ‘the science is in’ on climate change and sustainable energy. Put a stop to the insidious CSG industry and go down in history as a politician with the foresight, courage and vision to make Australia a leader in Clean and Green energy technology that will help to repair and regenerate our damaged ecosystem.

    Once again, I thank you and respect greatly your efforts yesterday in what must have been very trying circumstances.

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