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‘We’re losing members over this, and we can’t afford to lose members,’ said RFS volunteer Paul Botting.

2014-04-01 RFS volunteers from around the region protest at the use of the Bentley Fire Station as a police command centre during anti-gas protests.
Photo David Lowe

Members of our brigade are deeply concerned by, and strongly opposed to, all coal seam gas exploration activities and the environmental and social issues they would bring to our region. We also want to ensure the protests against them will stay peaceful and rational.

The impending police operation at the Bentley site is not in relation to any emergency services or disaster relief. It is an operation of exerting force against the overwhelming majority of local residents who peacefully oppose the imposition of coal seam gas mining on the northern rivers region. Their goal is to forcibly remove non-violent protestors so that infrastructure can be brought onto the land, with the intention of fracturing the earth as part of an ongoing and widening coal seam gas exploration process.

I consider cooperation with police, in this instance, to be a political statement by the RFS. If the RFS were to take sides then I firmly believe that the thousands of people camping and protecting the land and water at Bentley should be the ones receiving the cooperation, support and resources of the RFS and it's members, rather than the police.

I understand I am not a lone voice and that at least one RFS member has resigned over this decision, which is regrettable . We are volunteers and feel it our duty to protect the community and the land. We do not feel that the RFS is supporting this goal, by capitulating to the NSW police force, who are apparently to be musclemen for Metgasco and the state government and the inevitable tainting of our land and water, and way of life.

- Andy Gough
______________________________________

‘I would rather members protest than resign as I feel we provide an important service to the community,’ said concerned Larnook RFS member Glen Jones.

‘We are opposed to the use of the station for this purpose when it is there to protect the community and the land and we are opposed to the politicising of the RFS,’ said Jones. ‘And though we take this action reluctantly, we take it absolutely.’
 

2014-03-28 - RFS volunteers at Bentley are resigning after their fire station has been taken over by the police, against local's wishes, to direct the 100 riot police and 100 regular police converging to break the blockade

2014-03-29 Due Process? The information is that 100 riot squad are part of the 200 police squad headed to Bentley to help Metgasco get started. Bentley Fire Brigade said no to the Riot Squad's request to use its station as a base. The riot squad queries this with the Regional Commander who confirmed the No decision. The riot squad then went to State level who secured them the use of the station.
_________________________________________

RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons

Facebook comment 28 March near Sydney

I write in response to a number of recent posts regarding exploratory gas drilling that is scheduled to take place soon in our Northern Rivers Zone.

To suggest in any way that the NSWRFS is siding with, or somehow in support of, the exploratory drilling is simply wrong.

As an agency, we are simply providing NSW Police with access to one of our local RFS stations – nothing more, nothing less. NSWRFS members will still have access to their station, particularly in the event of an emergency call.

There are NO NSWRFS personnel involved in the Police operation at all.

The NSWRFS acknowledges that all people, including our own members, are entitled to their views on the exploratory drilling issue.

The NSWRFS respects those views, including one’s right to legally protest.

Regardless of those rights however, criticism of the NSWRFS, simply for doing nothing more than cooperating with the Police so that they may do their job, is unfair and inappropriate

______________________

Metgasco are going to try and force their way into the Northern Rivers despite overwhelming community opposition. This is where Australians need to make a defining stand against the CSG industry. Will you join them?

 

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