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Political Connections

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Metgasco Coal Seam Gas


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Metgasco Fiasco - Political connections

"It is Metgasco’s policy not to make political contributions to any government official, political party, political party official, election committee or political candidate" according to Metgasco's website retrieved May 2014.
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The former deputy director of the NSW Liberals, Richard Shields, started a job as a lobbyist with Metgasco in August, 2011 according to a SMH article headlined "Top Liberal moves to gas company".

 Mr Shields, who served as deputy director for close to four years, accepted a position with the listed mining company Metgasco as its manager of external relations. The role involves liaising with the state government and community groups as well as investor relations.

The managing director of Metgasco, Peter Henderson, said the company employed Mr Shields in response to the increased level of attention given to coal seam gas exploration and mining.

Mr Henderson said Mr Shields was ''very well connected in the government community. We haven't offered him the job because he is a Liberal or Labor person. We're very pleased to have Richard coming on board.''
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"Missing" letters from Metgasco to Government Ministers finally released

12th March 2014 The Greens Media Release - 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.

The "Missing Letters" are here: Metgasco
and also here:

_________________________________

Magistrate questions political agenda in CSG protest charges

6th Nov 2013 - Northern Star Lismore - A Magistrate questioned whether charges brought against a group of anti-CSG protesters were politically motivated and accused the police of being vexatious in pursuing them.

Magistrate David Heilpern dismissed charges against Alan Roberts and Bradley Rankin and wrote a scathing judgment, accusing the police of "an abuse of the processes of the court".

"Why else would police risk cost orders against them, drive a prosecutor up from Sydney to run the matters, arrange police witnesses to travel from Sydney, all for an innocuous minor traffic matter. It is in that context that the realistic suspicion of political interference arises"

The case was in relation to a protest against Metgasco drilling at Glenugie in January. Up to 30 people were charged with obstructing a driver.

To save time, a deal was done between the prosecution, defence and the court to make the case against Roberts and Rankin a test case.

But according to Alan Roberts, police withdrew the charges of "unreasonably obstruct a vehicle" just hours before the six-month limitation expired, without informing the defendants or the court.

"Presumably because there were no vehicles anywhere close (by) to obstruct," he said. A new charge "attempt to obstruct a vehicle" was laid instead.

Mr Heilpern said it was the first time he had seen a charge of "attempting to commit a traffic offence" and likened it to attempting to not wear a seat belt.

"In this case I find myself asking what could possibly be the reason for continuing on with such an innocuous charge in these circumstances," he said.

"Why else would police risk cost orders against them, drive a prosecutor up from Sydney to run the matters, arrange police witnesses to travel from Sydney, all for an innocuous minor traffic matter.

"It is in that context that the realistic suspicion of political interference arises."

Mr Heilpern said he was not convinced there had been political interference, but did find the police case was vexatious.

SCU law lecturer and CSG Free Northern Rivers spokesperson Aidan Ricketts wants to know where the order to pursue the case came from.

"There are serious questions for the State Government to answer here," he said.

"Not only has the riot squad been used to impose this industry by force upon the Northern Rivers, there is now evidence of undue process in the way that prosecutions are being handled.

"Somewhere in Sydney the orders were given for these fresh charges to be laid and we need to know how high up the chain of command these orders originated."

 

 

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