- Related: CSG protesters in Ministers’ sights
UPDATED 5:00pm: THE gas industry has welcomed NSW Resources and Energy Minister Anthony Roberts’ plan to increase penalties and Police powers to tackle protesters of coal and gas development.
Mr Roberts will table the Inclosed Lands, Crimes and Law Enforcement Amendment Bill in Parliament tomorrow, to increase penalties for unlawful entry on private property, from $550 to $5500 and grant Police extra powers to move protesters on.
Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association chief executive Malcolm Roberts supported the proposed changes and said unlawful protest had targeted local landholder families and gas industry workers.
“The safety of workers and land owners should not be put at risk by activists seeking media attention… Unfortunately we have seen reckless activity from a small number of protesters,” Dr Roberts said.
“Families who support gas production on their land have been threatened, equipment has been sabotaged, workers have been prevented from getting to their jobs and contractors have been followed home and harassed.”
NSW Minerals Council chief executive Stephen Galilee backed the reforms and said mine workers faced increased safety risks from illegal protests.
“Protesters have regularly trespassed onto mine sites, heavy equipment has been interfered with, access gates have been sabotaged or blocked, explosive charges have been tampered with, and in one case a security vehicle was rammed,” he said.
“These violent and illegal activities put protesters, mine workers, and emergency service personnel at risk.”
Protesters have targeted Santos’ Narrabri project, ramping up activity early this year.
Santos general manager of Energy NSW Peter Mitchley said while Santos respects the right of people to partake in legal protests, the safety of the community and workforce is its primary concern.
“The recent protests at Leewood are unsafe and against the law.
“The protesters have repeatedly forced entry, trespassed on the site and wilfully vandalised equipment, putting staff at risk.”