Saturday, 15 March 2014

Metgasco Limited, then NSW Minister for Resource and Energy Chris Hartcher & Co, NSW Police and those missing letters

The plot thickens concerning the anti-coal seam gas protests at Glenugie on the NSW North Coast.

The Greens (NSW) Media Release

"Missing" letters from Metgasco finally released

12th March 2014 5:33 pm

Four "missing" letters from Metgasco Ltd to Government Ministers have finally been released indicating what Greens MP David Shoebridge has long been speculating, that a high level of political interference took place during police protest operations at Glenugie last year.
Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson wrote to the then Minister for Resource and Energy, now ICAC embroiled, Chris Hartcher as well as the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Brad Hazzard, Minister for Police and Emergency Services Michael Gallacher and the Attorney General Greg Smith requesting "greater legal reinforcement" for their operations.
Henderson also expressed concern about the "excessively lenient legal system" and its "unwillingness" to harshly penalise activists with "anti-development agendas." Henderson's suggestion to the Government in how to deal with protesters was to impose mandatory sentences.
The content in these letters now raises questions as to why the Government failed to hand over these documents following numerous GIPA requests lodged by David Shoebridge.
Both former Minister Hartcher and Police Minister Gallacher advised in a GIPA (FOI) Notice of Decision that no information or documents existed relating to these protests, and upon further GIPA requests only one of the letters was released.
Greens NSW MP and Police Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
"What we have now are documents being released that the Government bizarrely denied having any record of in the first place.
"These letters not only indicate a clear directive issued by the Metgasco's CEO, but that the Government actually obeyed.
"The charges against these protesters were thrown out in court and we see now were only laid following direct political interference.
"It is simply unacceptable for resource industries to be effectively directing the operational activities of police in NSW." Mr Shoebridge said.
Four letters and attachments dated between December 2012 and February 2013 are now available online which Metgasco Limited asserts are the missing letters.

In these letters (below) Metgasco Limited requests more police to secure its Northern Rivers drilling sites, complains that police were initially not prepared to arrest protesters, complains about the lenient legal system, and, requests mandatory sentencing of any protester arrested at its drilling sites and found guilty of an offence.
Letter bundle includes an unsigned statement by a contractor which has not been witnessed and is unverified.

Subsequent to the commencement of this correspondance the NSW Public Order and Riot Squad was sent north to attend Metgasco's Glenugie drilling site and, in total an estimated 159 local, regional and other area police officers worked approximately 3,234 hours during the protest operations.

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