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COAL MINERS,GAS DRILLERS,IS THE TAKING OF THEIR MONEY BY COUNCILS AND GOVERNMENTS REALLY A GIFT ?

   This article has been prompted by the Narrabri Mayor R Faber when on Prime News Monday 5-4-2010 she justified the taking of $1.5m over two (2) years for the upgrade of Narrabri Swimming Pool by saying ”This money will help the community obtain an improved all year round swimming complex which will benifit the miners who live in Narrabri and the land where Narrabri Coal is, is not classed as PRIME AGRICULTURAL LAND”.(a full transcibed quote is attached to the end of this article.)

   SORE can suppose from that statement that all of the actions of the Narrabri Shire Council and Governments over the past sixteen (16) months may have been influenced by this thinking. With atleast half the land in Narrabri Shire classed as less than “PRIME”, is the Mayor telling us that She, The Councillors and The Council Staff are about to give all forms of Mining the official stamp approval, with of-course, the blessing of varrious Governments, Government Ministers and their Departments as well as the various Sitting Members of all levels of Government. Is this so called land capablity the reasoning behind Narrabri Shire Council sudden embrace of all things Mining?

  Sore first noticed this attitude when the subject of an illeagal erection and occupation of a Drilling Camp on Private Land was reported to Narrabri Council in Janurary 2009. Council Staff could not put up enough road blocks to prevent the knowledge of this illegal act getting out into the public domain and to assist this Gas Mining company escape prosecution for their knowing breach of Councils Bye-laws (more of this later) all of which were proved to be just that, “a smoke screen”, as the then head of Environmental Services informed me in a letter TD:EL P99/04645 dated 16-2-2009. Why Eastern Star Gas even knew it had acted contary to The Law, because in an attached Notice Of Intended Entry signed by Mr and Mrs DM and IA McFarlane and Eastern Star Gas in August 2008 and presented to council in late March 2009 along with the Development Application, is a parragraph which states “EASTERN STAR GAS Ltd SHALL CONDUCT ITS OPERATIONS IN ACCORDANCE WITH GOOD OIL INDUSTRY PRACTICE AND SHALL MAINTAIN AND ABIDE WITH ALL APPLICABLE LAWS AND REGULATIONS’. Did Easter Star Gas abide by laws and regulations when they errected and occupyed a Drillers camp on Private land without first seeking and then obtaining the necessary Council Approvals? Did some Concil Staff try to hide the illegal activities of this Gas Miner, if so then who directed them to do so?

  Further to the above Drillers Camp an objection was raised within the required time and presented to Council Staff four (4) days before the end of the objection period. The next day Mr Tim Donnan of Eastern Star Gas rang the objecter at 1015 on Friday 17-4-09 and berated the objector for objecting to the Camp. During the conversation, which involved the road damage caused by the Contractors building this camp(the link will become clearer latter) Mr Tim Donnan made the following statement ” I HAVE NO FORUM TO OBJECT TO EASTERN STAR GAS, AND THAT, I AM A MINORITY AND I WILL GET NOWHERE”. He also asked what it would take to get me of their back, even offering to not use Westport Road (the road they damaged). So who in the Narrabri Shire Council released my name and contact details to Eastern Star Gas and why were Eastern Star Gas told of the objection before the official closing date? Were Council Staff directed to do so and by whom? 

  The Drillers Camp remainded in full use and eventually the application went before the Planning & Development Committee on May 6th 2009 as 45/2009-(TJD)[CORP]P99/02530 where it went thru a rigorous inspection on all points of raised objections. A key objection looked at was Section 79C (1) (b) where the Committee talks about the road damage and the Council estimated cost of  $450,000 ( this amount was revised in 2010 by the General Manager Mr P Marshall to be $100,000 siting that Council Staff overestimated the cost of the repair, if that were the case then ALL OF NARRABRI COUNCIL REPAIR ESTIMATES ARE FAULSE AND HAS THIS COUNCIL COMMITED FRAUD WHEN REQUESTING PUBLIC FUNDS FROM STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS ,AND WHAT BLIND EYES HAS STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS PUT TO THESE OVERESTIMATED CLAIMS FOR ASSISTANCE ?) The matter also is recorded in the July Planning & Development Committee Meeting with my objection letter. This Committee made  Recommendations and Draft Conditions to be presented to a Council General  Meeting of July 2009,the record of this meetinig shows Crs Ethridge,Faber recommended Council approve the Camp while Crs Ethridge,Faber recommended Council write to Eastern Star Gas concerning Westport Rd, while Crs Kelly and Knox reccommended writting to the DPI requesting the DPI enforce the revelant conditions of its permitts/ approvals issued under the Petroleum(Onshore) Act 1991, in respect to local roads under Councils control.

  When the matter went before the Council as (TJD)[CORP]P99/02530 all Councillors voted for approval of the drillers camp, however Crs Etheridge, Kelly, Redding, Sevil, Bates, Clements, and O’Regan put foward four(4) motions 379/2009, 380/2009, 381/2009, and 382/2009 all these concern the writing of letters to Eastern Star Gas, the DPI, the Dept of Planning and to the Board of Eastern Star Gas all expressing concerns over either the Completion of the Drilling Camp on Lot 4 DP 757126 without council approval, or requesting Government Depts assist Council by enforcing the Conditions under which Eastern Star Gas is allowed to operate, a letter was also sent to Eastern star Gas  requesting a commitment to be financially responsible for damage done to Councils local roads as per various Government issued approvals. Eastern Star Gas’s answer to their letters—Due the takeover of Gastar by Santos we foregot to put in an application for the Drillers Camp.—–   Eastern Star Gas will not pay for the repairs of roads it uses because as a rate payer of Narrabri Shire we are entitled to use any road we require to use in the course of our Exploration and be-sides that it is our Contractor Transearth that damaged the roads, and they are a local company who pays rates to the Council.  The Mayor R Faber made these remarks at the August 2009 Council meeting.

   Sore has since found out that only two(2) letters were written the other two(2) were converted to phonecalls and despite requests by myself and one (1) Councillor no information about this breach of Council protocol not to mention Councils Code of Conduct has been forthcomming ( this request was made to Mr P Marshall on March 9th 2010 at a meeting starting at 0930) Other requests made at this meeting were:  Why did Council take six (6) months to act on the letters sent re road repairs.—-Why is Council accepting anything less than what Eastern Star Gas is required to pay not only by Government Approvals but by Eastern Star Gas’s own printed word in their varrious REF’s (Reviw of Environmental Factors) as presented and approved by the DII(formally DPI) and in the application to the Dept. of Planning wriiten May 2008 for Part 3A approval and in the various letters and News sheets that Eastern Star Gas has sent out,ALL OF WHICH NARRABRI SHIRE COUNCIL HAS BECAUSE I GAVE IT ALL TO Mr P KEECH WHILE HE WAS ACTING GENERAL MANAGER OF NARRABRI SHIRE COUNCIL.

    Eastern Star Gas has, according to letters I have from the now General Manager Mr P Marshall, managed to escape it’s responsibalities because the Narrabri Shire Council did not carry out Road Delaption Reports on roads used by Eastern Star Gas. But it is not the responsibality of Council to do this, LOOK AT THE EXPLORATION LICENCE NO.238 (located in articles on SORE page 3 9.10 under Roads and Tracks) ALSO LOOK AT THE PART 3A APPROVAL(file no. S07/00277 ,located with the Exploration Licence,page 10 under Traffic and Transport 2.32), Council is not responsiable in the first instance Eastern Star Gas was, so who didn’t do their job? Was it Eastern Star Gas or someone within Narrabri Shire Council(staff or Councillor), or were all involved and why? My letters on the roads and other matters have gone unanswered for two (2) months now and I wonder why. Is it because I pointed out improper practices within the Council? Is it because I showed the Council up as being very lax when it comes to the Miners and Drillers ( in the miners and drillers favour almost every move they make is recorded and available to the public) Is it because I called for the sacking of one of Narrabri Council Blue Eyed Boy’s for not doing his job? Or,is it because I simply want the truth? 

     The residents of Narrabri Shire and Councillors know  that their Councils Assetts have been destroyed by the Miners and Drillers and Council is picking up the tab. So why is Council picking up the bill that Eastern Star Gas is clearly responsiable for ?

    To further push home this point, in May 2009 I contacted the Mayor R Faber on her mobile phone to advise her of what I had found out about Eastern Star Gas’s responsibalities to the Shire, the conversation was short because she was in talks with Eastern Star Gas and she would be putting Councils position to them. This was May 2009 and nothing has happened. To Mayor R Fabers credit she has maintined the same Pro-Mining stance all the time since she was ellected to Council. From the first meeting I had with her in May 2009 when a petition was handed to her in the presence of Cr O’Regan where she told those present of her vision of the future where she saw A LARGE NUMBER OF COAL SEAM GAS POWERED QUICK START POWER GENERATION PLANTS STREACHING FROM NARRABRI TO NEWCASTLE.  As a further pointer to the total lack of control over Eastern Star Gas, I wrote to Mr P Keech on 1-2-09 and expressed my concerns over who should pay for the road damage, I got no reply, so I rang him on 16-2-09, Mr P Keech returned my phone call at 1245 when we worked thru the issues in that letter, on the issue of road repair and who should pay for it Mr P Keech said “IT WOULD BE NICE TO GET MONIES FROM EASTERN STAR GAS FOR WESTPORT ROAD BUT HE DOES’NT HOLD MUCH HOPE”, at this point Mr P Keech terminated the phone call say he was too busy to talk further.( taken from my notes of events)

   So many senior staff left Narrabri Shire Council last year and in the light of Mayor R Fabers comments in the local press reguarding this, where she states “that now the shire has a young and enthusiastic team with which it can go foward to Narrabri’s future with”. Does the Mayor know what is happening in her Council and if she does,What part is she playing?

  Getting back to the Mayors comments about PRIME AGRICULTURAL LAND IS NOT INVOLVED IN MINING AND THAT IT IS ALRIGHT TO TAKE THIS 1.5m BECAUSE THE MONEY WILL BENIFIT THE MINE WORKERS WHO LIVE IN NARRABRI cannot the Mayor see, as many in the Shire already see, that this money could be classed as offsets for Council not sticking it’s nose to closelly into the Miners buisness e.g. Dumping  water containing 500ppm salt into the Namoi River and paying for this by donating to a Cap and Pipe program for existing bores in The Great Artesian Basin,and what about Eastern Star Gas’s sudden gift of $50,000 towards the lighting at Collins Park Narrabri, this seems very strange and exceptionally large given the amounts Eastern Star Gas has splashed around in the past. Was it a payment to sooth Narrabri Shire Council over the recient Drilling Fluid spill into Mollee Crk, and to stop the Council pursuing Eastern Star Gas  for an answer as Mr P Marshall informed me, at the March 9th meeting, Council was doing.

  Is Council really ready to listen to those whose land is not PRIME, exerience has shown me that the current crop of Councillors bar one really don’t have much time for those who don’t either live in Narrabri or Wee Waa or on Prime land and they certainly have no intrest in areas that have a  past like those on Westport Rd. There are Shire Residents living on land that is not classed as Prime but these residents have invested their time, energy and money into their little piece of Australia some even make a living, and to them it is PRIME LAND.

  SO MAYOR FABER YOU SHOULD THINK OF YOUR SHIRE BEFORE GIVING THE MINERS AND DRILLERS A QUOTIABLE REASON TO OPPERATE ON ANY LAND NOT DEEMED BY THE NARRABRI SHIRE COUNCIL AND/OR THE MAYOR AS BEING PRIME.         

  Here is the Narrabri Mayors quote as read to me by Prime News 6-4-10.

   “THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THIS COMMUNITY WHO ALREADY WORK FOR THE MINES. tHE MINING IS TAKING PLACE IN AREAS NOT EFFECTING PRIME AGRICULTURAL LAND. THEY ARE SEEN AS GOOD CITIZENS IN THE COMMUNITY, WE ARE PROUD THEY ARE GOING TO INVEST IN OUR PLACE”.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       8-4-10

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