METGASCO'S bid to have its former PEL16 exploration licence reinstated has taken a strange turn.
The NSW Government has apparently decided not to present any evidence to the Supreme Court, which would have justified its decision to suspend the PEL16 licence in May.
The Government says it suspended Metgasco's licence on the grounds the company failed in its community consultation requirements.
While the government submitted some background documents to the court in June, it was expected to provide a full outline of its case with accompanying documents by last Friday.
But after initially requesting an extension until this week - citing the unavailability of key personnel - on Wednesday it apparently decided against submitting any evidence at all.
Metgasco had previously submitted its evidence to the court on July 28.
In an ASX statement yesterday, CEO Peter Henderson said the withholding of evidence would prevent Metgasco's lawyers from cross-examining in court senior figures responsible for the suspension.
"We are surprised by the NSW Government's decision not to submit evidence," he said.
"It is especially disappointing given the Government's claim a few weeks ago that our request for it to produce documents was 'premature'."
Mr Henderson speculated that the government may in fact not have any documentation of its decision, given the suspension was imposed virtually overnight.
"It's possible there isn't any evidence because the decision was made on the spur of the moment," he said.
"It is important in these circumstances that the suspension decision be properly justified by Government and scrutinised by the courts.
"We think it's important the public can see why the decision was made, how the decision was made, in a transparent manner.
"We do not see the transparency."
The company's statement said the case is now likely to be heard in December, despite the company's best efforts to expedite the case.