Metgasco court debate tries to define ‘consultation’

THE QUESTION of what constitutes effective consultation dominated the final day of Metgasco's Supreme Court hearing in Sydney yesterday.

According to Gasfields Free Northern Rivers spokesman Dean Draper, the government's counsel argued Metgasco should have been more transparent about its future plans if the Rosella gas well was successful.

Mr Draper said the government's legal team read from an email from Peter Henderson to Land and Water Commissioner Jock Laurie, which Mr Draper said informed Mr Laurie the company needed to mobilise its drill rig and "needed some help from the government to engage with the community".

The government's lawyers also quoted from a letter from Peter Henderson to the NSW Premier saying the company needed government and police assistance in order to proceed with its drilling and its gas plans for the region.

They described the previous Doubtful Creek and Glenugie blockades, and pointed to the company having a "regional problem", Mr Draper said.

"Metgasco got itself into a situation that required 700 police officers... which suggests that perhaps they could have done things better with their consultation," Mr Draper said

In contrast, Metgasco's lead counsel argued the company had fulfilled its consultation obligations to the letter and the suspension of its license was unlawful under the Petroleum (Onshore) Act.

Mr Henderson was in court and a response will be sought today.

Justice Richard Button asked for extra information to be given to him by close of business Friday. It is understood he is under no time constraints. A decision could take up to a year.



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