Glenugie anti-CSG blockade

Coal seam gas mining company Metgasco’s shares plummeted to an all-time low of 15.5 cents this week, a drop of some eight per cent since last week.

The apparent nervousness of investors is not shared by Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson, who was issued 1,352,000 shares by the company on November 14 and has vowed the company will press ahead with CSG well drilling.

There is a lot at stake. If Metgasco complete their planned wells in the Northern Rivers and push the Lions Way pipeline through to its major market in Queensland, the company’s fortunes are sure to considerably improve.

Last week Mr Henderson declared that a poll conducted during Lismore’s 2012 council elections – which found 86.86% of voters to be against CSG, was fraudulent. And despite six Northern Rivers councils and 70 communities declaring themselves gasfield-free, Mr Henderson told the Daily Examiner last week that the public debate over CSG has been hi-jacked by ill-informed radicals.

“We do our best to provide real information but some people would rather hear anecdotal evidence and come to incredible conclusions that have no basis in fact,” he said.

He claimed that Metgasco employees have been threatened – and a bomb scare was phoned into their Casino office this week.

However Annie Kia, of CSG Northern Rivers, who held a vigil outside Casino’s Metgasco office when the bomb threat was allegedly phoned in on Tuesday at 1pm, ridiculed the suggestion.

“We don’t even believe this was real” she said. “There is a pattern of exaggeration and distortion coming from Metgasco’s PR.  While Metgasco constantly complain to the media about protesters, their message to their shareholders is completely different… at  their AGM this year, there was barely a mention of public resistance.”

Meanwhile, protestors have been successful in delaying construction of a well at Glenugie, south of Grafton, over the past fortnight. Local land-holder Deb Whitley chained herself to a truck on December 4, delaying fencing work around the site. Later actions managed to turn away a truck bearing an industrial generator, and the vigil at Casino and growing presence of protestors at the Glenugie site have thus far deterred Metgasco from bringing their drill rig to the site to complete the well.

With the groundswell of popular opposition to Metgasco’s activities appearing to be on the rise, its shareholders may well be in for an anxious ride.

I’ve been to the anti-CSG protest site at Glenugie and met a small group of nervous but highly determined people, mostly locals. None of them are experienced at this kind of thing, most are middle-aged or over and very well informed. All are deeply concerned about the potential hazards of CSG drilling.

Improvising delaying actions and using non-violent protest tactics such as lying down in front of vehicles, they’ve been successful in dramatically slowing Metgasco’s operations, turning away a generator truck and deterring a drill rig from even leaving its temporary base at Casino. It’s an emotional business – a truck-driver contracted by Metgasco quit after Deb Whitley’s brave lock-on and a young policeman was seen in tears, overwhelmed by the events.

Other concerned individuals have dropped by, including a council worker, with no political knowledge of the CSG controversy but an instinctive conviction that drilling so close to the Coldstream River where he fishes is not a good idea.

Farmers, a retired boxer, health-care workers and , they’re all represented by a shifting demographic. People come and go. But an abiding belief in what they’re doing remains.

Music, Writing

Review of Lucinda William’s 2011 album, ‘Blessed’ published in Reverb Magazine

Marriage has apparently mellowed her but you wouldn’t know it from the tone of the songs on Lucinda William’s latest. They still excoriate, castigate and scorn as blithely as ever – and in as poetic a vein. Daughter of a nationally renowned poet who read his work at Bill Clintons second inauguration, Williams’ apparently effortless songwriting template has again produced a collection of  enduring classics delivered in her sublimely harrowed voice. Production is exquisite, Don Was steering a well-oiled machine with Elvis Costello donating gentlemanly, if sometimes suitably reckless guitar work.  On first lesson the album handles like its predecessors, never straying too far from the ‘Car Wheels’ handbook, but inevitable repeats leads to an understanding that you are listening to a ineffable mastery of modern songwriting.

Publicity jobs, Writing

James Cruickshank – press release for ‘Note to Self’

James Cruickshank, acclaimed guitarist and keyboardist for the Cruel Sea, releases his second solo album, Note To Self, through Mullumbimby’s Vitamin records.

Flashes of Sam Cooke, David Bowie, Tom Waits and Beefheart reveal in the swinging gait and crooked instrumental passages of a moody serenade through Cruikshank’s yellowed back pages. Tinkering with strings and keys, swamp jazz and electronic propulsion, these meditations on maturing in a Peter Pan era could have been recorded in a time capsule, but the production, resolutely 21st century, lands it safely in a contemporary quarter.

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Tumbleweed Live Review for Reverb Magazine Feb 2011

Tumbleweed’s summer tour may have been blighted by Biblical plagues and a distinct dearth of Triple J’s paternal attentions, but there was more venom and fun and pure raunch in every riff-packed number than in any of the fifty hot new things the yoof network flings at us every month.

They rolled and swung and stung like some kind of punch-drunk lurching phenomenon. Ali in Zimbabwe, Keating in question time, the Stones in exile.

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Chris Bailey interview, published in Reverb Magazine 11/1/2011

The Saints came blazing out of Brisbane in 1974  and are largely credited as pioneers of the punk movement in  Australia. As frontman and angry young rock poet, Chris Bailey’s notoriety was centred around the frenetic echoes of such punk classics as ‘Stranded’. But as he prepares for an Australian theatre tour with acclaimed folksinger Judy Collins, whose work has been covered by the likes of Leonard Cohen and Rufus Wainwright, Bailey observes that such tags are meaningless in the greater context of music.

“If you go to the extreme view of things we’re probably the most two unlikely artists to be on the same stage on the same night, but show-business puts you into a box, so you’re either a rock artist, a folk artist, a punk artist, or an R&B artist, but it’s all just music.

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