Life goes back to normal. Or will never be quite the same. This morning the Petroleum Exploration License for Metgasco to frack for gas at Bentley was suspended and referred to ICAC. As well, and hopefully even more significantly, the Office of Coal Seam Gas will audit all Petroleum Exploration Licences across NSW.
I’ve spent the last week gearing up for a Eureka Stockade moment at Bentley. If you know any Eureka history, 27 (or more) people were killed at Eureka and more would have been bayoneted but for the but for the intervention of Captain Charles Pasley from the blockade-breaking force. The miners were routed in about 10 minutes flat, 120 were arrested and some were charged with treason and sedition. It wasn’t exactly a glorious win.
But it changed Australian history. As a direct result, ordinary people (at least the male ones) got the vote in Victoria and Australian democracy was born.
Bentley Blockade looked like being like that. 900 police, including mounted police and riot squad were due to descend on us on Monday. Ten thousand or so local people from every part of the social and political spectrum planned to confront them, including some very very brave people locked on. Many of the police had friends and family amongst the blockaders and I’m sure that amongst their number there were many Captain Pasleys. I thought I felt calm and unstressed by it all, but this morning as tears of relief ran down my face, I realised that my body knew I was scared.
A young mother involved in the blockade had the best quote of the morning. “Have spent so long stressing about bentley. Have been packing bags and first aid kits and reading about direct action safety. Worrying about my friends and families health and wellbeing. Today’s suspension has me in tears of relief and rage that we have been put through this. I hope ICAC goes through you bastards like a dose of the salts. Suck balls Metgasco and RVC.”
One of the media reports has the headline “Metgasco’s drilling permit for Bentley farm plagued by protesters”. I hope we are a very contagious plague. I hope we set off an epidemic through every site of this evil industry.
I’m celebrating today by planting peas and snow peas. A glorious day in the garden, bake some bread, go look at some new ducks this afternoon, and on the way, drop in at Bentley to crack a champagne with the Nannas. It’s just a battle, not the war, but we won, and it’s a moment to savour.