CSG and coal mining stories

Bentley bust a military solution

In what appears to be a classical military pincer manoeuvre, the NSW riot squad seems poised to enforce Richmond Valley County Council’s decision to shut down the anti-CSG Bentley protest camp.

This move comes hot on the heels of a visit to Casino last week by Energy and Resources minister Anthony Roberts. Refusing to meet delegations from the 3000-strong camp, Mr Roberts instead closeted himself with APPEA representatives, pro-gas Mayor Ernie Bennett and Council’s general manager John Walker, who has previously been under investigation by ASIC.

As the end of school holidays looms and the camp will presumably be vacated by the large number of families staying there, the announcement appears to be carefully synchronised by a state government that refuses to accept the Northern Rivers community’s right to refuse invasive gasfields.

Interestingly enough, it also coincides with warnings by an unnamed source to representatives of the camp, which they claim specified next week, from Monday April 28 on, as the likely dates for an onslaught by huge numbers of riot police, bolstered by the implementation of the Cronulla Riot Rule 6A, allowing extraordinary police powers.

“Such a response by government would be a clear misuse of those extraordinary powers against a peaceful but very sizable local opposition,” said Aidan Ricketts, a Gasfield Free Northern Rivers representative.

Aidan claims that an unspecified source within government has warned that up to 700 riot police will be deployed against the camp. The Minister’s office failed to respond to attempts to verify these claims.

The Richmond Valley Council’s timely announcement could act as a trigger for these police to be trucked in to the Northern Rivers as a pretext for shutting down the camp and allowing CSG mining company Metgasco to bring in a drilling rig from Queensland to commence work on its beleagured well site at Bentley.

Aidan Ricketts claims that the three month standoff at Bentley has gone beyond a policing issue, particularly in the light of the resignation of NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and other related gas-industry investigations currently underway at ICAC.

“It is a political issue and as far as we’re concerned it’s a democracy issue, because 87% of people voted in a registered AEC poll that they didn’t want gasfields in the Northern Rivers,” he said.

“But the minister came and instead of seeking political solutions he was preparing the ground for a military solution.”

He said that these powers had previously been used on a non-violent activist training camp in 2010.

“Under those powers they can arrest anybody without cause, just for being there, which means they can target who they see as organisers. They can sieze mobile phones and communication devices, they can shut down areas and stop and search vehicles and search and stop mobile transmissions.

“So it’s a full suite of extreme police powers and any arrests or offences that they charge people for have a maximum $5000 fine.”

Minister Roberts has labelled the campers as “extremists”, despite the overwhelming presence there of everyday people from the Northern Rivers region. Aidan Ricketts says that this kind of inflammatory statement is designed to prime the police to ignore the peaceful demographic of law-abiding residents exercising their democratic right to oppose what they see as a toxic, invasive industry that will not benefit their region or Australia.

“They have an impression that there’s a hardcore that they want to get and they kind of don’t want the mainstream mums and dads and farmers in the way. Unfortunately at Bentley they’re going to get the mainstream, because the mainstream is what it is,” Mr Ricketts said.

10 thoughts on “Bentley bust a military solution”

  1. well the cops better find a heap of jail cells because the people of this area will stand their ground, and hopefully many will refuse to sign any bail conditions that forbid returning to Bentley
    those liberal politicians are showing themselves to be the most corrupt since the days of the rum rebellion, this may well turn out to be the Northern Rivers’ Eureka stockade!!!
    cant eat coal cant drink gas!

  2. It must be a deliberate ploy to impress whomsoever they are out to impress that the RVC say quite a few untruths about the campsite ( it is clean and highly organised) but the fact remains the people at Bentley are a diverse demographic such as I have not seen united before for a political issue . In all my time as a supporter of Fred Nile Group and often talking with people representing other factions in politics I have never seen doing people committed to getting justice in the community . We do not want CSG and all the problems that go with it . It is because people are so determined to get the government to intervene that they have been at Bentley before and after work and on weekends to unite and ask for the politicians help.

  3. Great article! Thank you. I have one question, that seems to remain unasked (let alone unanswered…): what can we do? What are our options?

    Civil war? Bloodshed?


  4. If this police response does occur it will be reminiscent of the era of Bejelkie Petersen in Queensland. Politicians using police for political purposes borders on criminal.

  5. I feel as though this is just another dramatic solution to impose power and control over a group of law abiding citizens in the most extreme matter possible. This however, does not surprise or shock me due to the current governments tactics that do not serve the better interest of the people at hand. If this community is telling the government that they do not wish for the gas fields to commence in their area, then that is their right and it should be respected by all government parties. As this is obviously not the case, my suggestion would be to stand and fight. Make it a legal matter. Spread your message far and wide and I am positive there will be thousands of other people that will also stand behind you and fight for you. This is our country not theirs. We have rights as citizens to defend ourselves against the hierarchy. So lets take a stance once and for all. Power to the people!

  6. So, another step towards Russian-style oligarchy for Australia? Sad, sick and pathetic. It’s only a ruling elite that’s completely lost touch that would resort to police brutality to negotiate peaceful protests. Think about it carefully, Australia.

  7. If we look at the history of pre war Nazi Germany, we see that in Australia the same things are happening now.
    The people have elected an insane despot, ordinary citizens are stopped and searched and denied their basic freedoms, the press are under gag orders, the politicians deliberately misinform citizens, the military are called in against the people, beings who “aren’t the same as us” are held in internment camps! And the wishes of the people are irrelevant.
    Labelling the people extremist and mainstream does not make the current political situation a democracy. It is fascism at is finest.

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