Tamara Smith.
Tamara Smith. Cathy Adams

MP accuses Metgasco of tantrum to extort cash from taxpayers

MEMBER for Ballina Tamara Smith has accused Metgasco of holding the NSW Government to ransom over failed attempts to buy back the company's Bentley mining lease.

The Greens MP said the public interest test legislation was repealed in 2014.

She called for the public interest test to be reinstated to allow the licence to be cancelled.

"Here we are with this government about to be dragged back to the courts again by a gas company throwing a tantrum to extort as much compensation as it can from the taxpayers of NSW," Ms Smith told parliament.

"The licence buyback scheme has been bungled.

"As it stands, the people of New South Wales could be forced to pay their way out of this mess."

Metgasco announced on Monday it had served a statement of claim on the government over the unlawful suspension of its Bentley project in 2014.

The Supreme Court ruled the suspension was illegal in 2015, but efforts to settle compensation out of court failed.

Ms Smith said retroactive legislation was the best way to avoid the government being "held to ransom".

"The company, in a last ditch bid to save its failed business model, in a community that is awake to the horrors this industry poses, now has the government over a barrel on this issue," she said.

"We implore the government to show courage and to refuse to let a tantrum-throwing mining company dictate to the government and grab millions of taxpayers' dollars.

"The Bentley protectors will continue watching and waiting - ready to call to action the social movement to protect Bentley at any moment.

"I pledge today here in this Parliament, should this government fail us yet again, to return home and stand with the community at the blockade again."


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