Police investigate GetUp director

THE creative director of lobby group GetUp may face police charges after allegedly trespassing on land leased to coal seam gas company Metgasco.

Metgasco also allege damage was caused in an unrelated incident last weekend to security cameras at well sites leased by the company.

GetUp creative director Simon Duncan-Watt was allegedly captured trespassing by a security camera installed by Metgasco at its well at Dobies Bight, west of Casino, on August 15.

That day a GetUp delegation had visited the region in the lead up to a national campaign on the issue.

Mr Duncan-Watt accompanied GetUp campaign director Paul Oosting and campaigner Justine Garcia de Heer on that trip in which the group met with anti-coal seam gas campaigners, including Dyraaba-based Linda Brooks.

Contacted yesterday by The Northern Star, Mr Oosting said GetUp would not comment on the allegations as a police investigation into the matter was underway.

Images sent to The Northern Star by Metgasco, which are date stamped August 15, at 3.07pm, show what appears to be a male person in a red, white and black checked shirt leaving the Dobies Bight site.

Mr Duncan-Watt can be seen wearing a similar shirt in a photograph taken by the Northern Star earlier that day.

Speaking to The Northern Star yesterday, Ms Brooks said she did accompany the GetUp delegation on a visit to a coal seam gas well on August 15.

"I had told Metgasco that I am there to monitor activities and nobody ever told me not to do it," Ms Brooks said.

"I undertook these actions as I feared that no government agency was out to protect the public and landowners' rights."

In the other unrelated matter, Metgasco said security camera equipment at three sites was damaged last weekend.

Metgasco alleged an intruder visited a number of well sites, removed batteries and memory cards from the cameras and disabled the equipment.

The Northern Star understands a witness, in a statement provided to police, alleges they noticed a group of people at a well site on the weekend driving a black station wagon.

It is understood the witness alleged the group "left in a hurry" when they were approached.

"Metgasco is aware of other unauthorised visitors to our well sites," Metgasco chief Peter Henderson said.

Inspector Mick Dempsey of Richmond Local Area Command confirmed that police were investigating an alleged trespass as well as possible break and enter and stealing offences in relation to Metgasco security cameras.

"Any persons detected trespassing on private property leave themselves open to prosecution," Inspector Dempsey said.

"Break and enter into a premises carries a substantial term of imprisonment.

"Anyone detected trespassing on private property can be prosecuted either by way of infringement notice or by way of charges to be dealt with by a court."

Inspector Dempsey said no charges have yet been laid in relation to the matter.

Mr Henderson said that while we lived in a country built on "robust debate" the "wilful destruction of private property is not the style of debate that is used by normal Australians, nor is it productive".

"If members of the public want to get further information about our industry they should contact us.

"Well site tours can be organised. (But) some common sense and respect for others in the debate would help," he said.



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