Anti coal-seam gas protesters greet the NSW State Government inquiry into the industry in Kyogle.
Anti coal-seam gas protesters greet the NSW State Government inquiry into the industry in Kyogle.

Greens MP 'out of place'

GREENS MP Jeremy Buckingham was publicly lashed last night for attacking Metgasco for failing to attend an inquiry hearing it was not invited to.

Mr Buckingham yesterday described Metgasco as "cowardly" for not attending a public hearing into the coal-seam gas industry at Alstonville yesterday.

The comments were made while visiting a coal-seam gas well atDobies Bight yesterday and reiterated during the hearing - where inquiry chairman Robert Brown took him to task.

Mr Brown ruled Mr Buckingham out of order when the Greens MLC asked a member of the audience how they felt at the lack of courage shown by gas companies in not attending the hearing.

Mr Brown, who heads the Shoot- ers and Fishers Party, said gas companies had not been invited to attend the hearing yesterday and would instead address the inquiry at a hearing in November.

Metgasco chief Peter Henderson said the company was keen to front the inquiry.

"We are not ducking it, we wouldn't miss the opportunity," Mr Henderson said.

"There's a number of different hearings going ahead all the way through November and December.

"We made our submission last week to the inquiry. Today is simply a site visit and we are going to be presenting in November."

Mr Henderson acknowledged the coal-seam gas industry had an "image problem", something the company had not anticipated.

"Twelve months ago coal-seam gas was seen as a real plus byeveryone," Mr Henderson said.

"Since then it has almost turned the other way and we didn't anticipate it, so we weren't on the front foot.

"We thought that the concern would disappear after the NSW election, but it hasn't, and we are only now starting to get out as an industry and tell our side."

Mr Henderson described Metgasco as "only a small company" which contributed a "fraction" of the cost of a pro coal-seam gas advertising campaign.

"Big companies" Santos and Eastern Star Gas were footing most of the bill, Mr Henderson said.

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