sledge message 2016/1

Message from the President of Northern Rivers Guardians  24 December 2015

By Scott Sledge  Published in the January 2016 edition of Nimbin Good Times

In May 2011 I wrote an article for Nimbin Good Times entitled A VAMPIRE STALKS THE RAINBOW REGION which warned of the developing threat to our region from unconventional gas mining. That article concluded:
Everyone who cares about land rights and the future of sustainable agriculture should join the community campaigns that are emerging everywhere. People are uniting with the aim to stop this greedy and short-sighted violation of our land. A representative of farmers in the Tweed Shire recently told a meeting of the Northern Rivers Guardians: ”On one side there are the interests of the gas miners, and on the other side is everyone else.” 

This is the Big One. If we can defend the land and our rights, then there is hope for the future for our children and grandchildren!


I have great pleasure in announcing that our efforts as a community have been successful : the Northern Rivers is now gasfield free.  Woohoo!

A  busload of  activists from the Northern Rivers  travelled to Sydney for the 16th December AGM of Metgasco, which ultimately voted to sell its licences in our region and leave NSW. That completes a buy-back of all licences to explore for gas in our region. Hooray to that !

A few weeks earlier  representatives of 195 nations gathered in Paris and unanimously agreed to end the Fossil Fuel Age and go renewable, so  I suggested Metgasco could change its objective from gas to renewable electricity. One of our guys gave them a new name suggestion : MetSunCo.

If they take up those suggestions the shareholders might finally get some money back on their investment. And we might get some peace !  Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson said the company would invest in some other gas project in some other state. I believe that no one will try to frack the Northern Rivers for a very long time. NSW politicians have heard us and know there is no way we’ll accept a gasfield development here. 

It has been quite a journey. Now we can look back at the past 4 + years with a sense of achievement. Good on you all for what you each did, whether a lot or a little. Victory has ten thousand fathers. It was our community standing together, men and women , gays and straights,  farmers and environmentalists, new settlers and old, bushies and townsfolk, schoolkids, musos, nurses and nannas, Origines and immigrants from all over the world who have chosen to make this their home. Through protests and street parades, fundraising, petitions, letters, theatre, songs lock-ons and blockades we convinced the gas ghouls to take their dastardly schemes and leave our region.

Gasfield -free neighbourhood surveys and the 2012 Lismore referendum proved that we  represented the vast majority of the population and we could claim a mandate for protecting our  environment and lifestyles through the Lock the Gate Alliance.

The world is still conflicted and we need to continue to protect our future and to join with others to make a sustainable future with renewable technologies. Gas projects still threaten many parts of Australia and coal is a dangerous dinosaur thrashing its tail thru our ecosystems, with politicians pretending that pollution is actually good for us…really!

We also celebrate the realisation of the dream of a community-owned  alternative energy company in the Northern Rivers. After a 3-month fundraising campaign, Enova Energy has announced our community has subscribed $3.8 M  to its share offer and the company will start operating in the new year. The Farming the Sun Project is also set to create solar power farms on a commercial scale in Lismore. Check their web sites.

Wildlife is under threat – especially the Tweed and Ballina coastal koalas – along with the ecosystems which support all life.  We must continue to take care of our part of the planet.

Do you know what financial institutions do with your money?

We have had quite a lot of success in 2015 with the Divest/Invest  campaign. With the fate of the Great Barrier Reef hanging in the balance, I encourage everyone to find out if their investments/superannuation are involved with promoting fossil fuels. There are lots of ethical alternatives. I suggest credit unions for ordinary transactions and Australian Ethical Investment for super and long term investments.
Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt continues to support coal mining. Adani is an Indian company with a terrible record of environmental devastation and their proposed Carmichael mine would open up the world’s largest coal export facilities along the Queensland coast. Dredging would likely finish the Great Barrier Reef. Due to people power, 15 major banks have refused finance for this devastating venture and I think we can stop it. Probably only lack of finance will bury this dinosaur, but please contact politicians at all levels anyway. Please take a little time this holiday season to let your financial institutions know how strongly you feel.  Get ethical and go renewable.

Celebrate a gasfield-free future: You’ve earned it !

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