Mike Baird must resist coal industry pressure and restore balance

Published: February 17, 2015

The Lock the Gate Alliance is calling on the New South Wales Government to resist an aggressive pre-election lobbying push by the mining industry and fulfill outstanding commitments to protect farmland and water from coal and gas mining before the public goes to the polls on 28 March.

The NSW Minerals Council has today released some details of its election agenda, including even faster approval for mining, a return to political decision-making for large and damaging projects and harsher penalties for community members that protest the impact of mining on land and water.

Lock the Gate New South Wales Coordinator, Georgina Woods said, “Not satisfied with ruining our rivers, polluting our skies and driving agriculture off our most productive lands, the mining industry has revealed its alarming anti-community agenda to rush and politicise mining approvals and bring harsh penalties on any landholders who dares to oppose them.”

The Minerals Council’s plan is released on a day when Premier Mike Baird has been met by protesters at a Hunter Valley conference centre and farmers from the Liverpool Plains have staged a protest out the front of Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce’s office in Tamworth over the Watermark coal mine proposed for the Liverpool Plains. Two weeks ago, the Liverpool Plains farmers greeted the Premier with a coal mine protest in Tamworth, and yesterday, a woman from Coonabarabran confronted the Premier in Sydney over his support for coal seam gas drilling in the Pilliga forest.

 “The New South Wales Government has outstanding unfulfilled promises from the last State Election, when the former Premier Barry O’Farrell promised to prohibit mining in drinking water catchments and protect farmland and water resources from coal and gas mining,” Ms Woods said.

“In the last few months, Mike Baird has parroted the Minerals Councils’ agenda in promising faster mining approvals and harsher penalties for landholders that dare to stand up to the mining industry. It’s no wonder he’s being greeted with protest wherever he goes.

“Rather than punishing the people of the bush for standing up for their livelihoods, the Premier should ask himself why these protests are happening: it’s because his Government has failed to protect the people and landscapes of New South Wales from the mining industry. Communities are trying desperately to let him know that it has gone too far.

“There’s still time before the state election to restore balance and give regional New South Wales some protections from out-of-control coal mining,” she said.

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