A marijuana bud and a business shop takings were “seized” in the latest raid at Mintabie on Officer Oil Basin in the Far North of South Australia.
On Monday 11 April, 2011 a contingency of eight police personel including a police dog and handler arrived at the Mintabie Opal Mining Town in the Far North and confiscated storekeeper Lindsay Kobelt’s shop takings. Mr. Kobelt said the money was takings from the business and there was nothing to suggest it could have been “drug money”.
“I’m not in the habit of banking shop takings every day, or even every week said the 67 year shopkeeper. “A similar incident occured in December 2010 when police, who intermittently “raid” the town, confiscated shop takings of $30,000.00. So they already knew we were likely to have cash on the premises”.
“The process is now to prove that the money went through our business which is not difficult, just time consuming”, said Kobelt.
“This is all about tacky publicity for Mintabie and the Outback and the media have fallen for it once again”, said Mintabie business owner.
“There’s a government deal with an oil company happening at Mintabie and the government don’t want to offer us compensation to leave. They are trying to shove us off and make it appear as though we deserve it, Kobelt said.
As for the drug raid suggestion, the dog and it’s handler, brought all the way from the Northern Territory, did not find any cannabis. Tim Kobelt aged 42 who looks after the store, said the bud belonged to him. Tim said he had a small amount of marijuana which was for his personal use and showed the eight police officers the cup he kept it in.
The bud weighed approximated 1.5 gram and Tim said he was not charged with an offence but did received a spot fine of $210.00.
Business owner Lindsay Kobelt said, “the media release the police put out is totally misleading. Already we are hearing rumours of a drug bust in Mintabie”.
“One of the Adelaide newspapers fell for it and even printed that someone was charged. They wrote: “$64000 seized in drug raid. POLICE have seized $64000 in cash from a premises at Mintabie and charged a man with drug possession”. Obviously this is not the case. No newspapers contacted us in order to discover that the release was grossly misleading”, said Tim Kobelt
Residents of Mintabie are convinced they are again the victims of a ramped up smear campaign designed by the State Government to asssist in forcing residents to leave their homes.
Mintabie is strategically situated near the Darwin rail and transport outlets on the Officer Oil Basin. “We all believe that even the increased electricity costs on 13 of the other remote communities is part of a larger agenda by the state government to clear some of the outback”, said Lindsay Kobelt.
Mintabie Progress Association Chairman, Lee Craggs said that since the police issued their misleading media release, many news sources have run the story without contacting anyone in Mintabie for a comment. “This type of reporting is totally irresponsible. The media concerned seem satified with a prepared, one sided drug related story and to hell with what may be the truth”, said Mr. Craggs .
“On the 15th December 2010 during a similar staged raid, we were told by police – “We are going to come down heavy on everyone at Mintabie.” “What shocking abuse of taxpayers money, just to get some bad publicity for a town in order to aid government petroleum interests. If people don’t see this harrassment for what it is, they won’t be prepared when it happens to them”, said Lindsay Kobelt.
Just prior to the petroleum lease being signed and despite no arrests were ever made, Mintabie became the subject of a ‘drug peddling’ allegations campaign, that some of the media picked up on and ran with. The only confirmed drug related arrests that had been made anywhere near Mintabie or the APY Lands was an Adelaide drug runner who was caught by Coober Pedy police on Friday 5 March 2010 enroute to APY Lands!
Has Mintabie become inconvenient? The locals say yes.
The South Australian Government signed a petroleum lease agreement on 16 July 2009 involving offshore Indonesian company Ahava Resources and others. The company involved now have access to most of the water bores in the area which they plan to run dry in prospecting for shale oil. The lease (PEL 138) completely encompasses the Mintabie township and it’s infrastructure.
The Deed of Assignment for PEL 138 [Mintabie] is dated 21 August 2009 between Dawnpark Holdings Pty Ltd, Standard Oil Pty Ltd. Others involved are Ahava Resources Pty Ltd, Ahava Holdings Pty Ltd, Ahava Energy Pty Ltd, Ahava Welbourn Energy Pty Ltd, Ahava Wintinna Energy Pty Ltd and Ahava Trainor Energy Pty Ltd.
“It’s very clear that we are town caught in the middle of the South Australian Government’s multinational mining persuits and from our point of view, it appears they want us to violate our civil rights and just walk away from our homes”, said Mr. Kobelt.
Media Release issued by South Australian police on Wednesday, 13 April 2011.