Federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane has revealed an arrogance and disdain for regional communities impacted by coal mining, according to the Lock The Gate Alliance. The Minister's comments, suggesting that Hunter Valley residents should “stop complaining” about coal mining or leave the region, were made to a mining industry conference in Sydney yesterday.
“Minister Macfarlane is completely out of touch with the reality faced by coal-affected communities in the Hunter,” said Steve Phillips, regional coordinator for the Lock The Gate Alliance. “His comments yesterday were arrogant, ill-informed, and offensive.”
"Mr MacFarlane seems surprised that coal-affected communities have become 'hot-beds of resistance' to reckless mining expansion. Perhaps he should talk to people in these communities and find out why. These are local people that have lived in the Hunter for generations. Many of them have worked, or continue to work in the coal industry, but have come to the conclusion that the industry has gone too far. People are tired of the polluted waterways, the sickening air, the noise and the blasting, the unstoppable march of new mines into new areas where they are not wanted.”
“The historic village of Bulga, for example, is one of the oldest towns in NSW. The Bulga community has fought tooth-and-nail to protect itself from the advacment of Rio Tinto's Warkworth mine, after deciding at a public meeting that their town's very existance was threatened by the mine. The local residents won their court battle, but the NSW Government is attempting to force the mine on them regardless.”
Lock The Gate also rejected statements made by the Minister that the expansion of the mining industry was being held back by 'red and green tape', and needed certainty.
"Under NSW laws, it is the mining industry that has certainty, and local communities that are never safe. The only place safe from mining are National Parks: everyhwere else seems to be open slather. Companies are allowed to mine on flood plains, they can bulldoze endangered bushland, tear up productive farmland, divert and pollute rivers, and dump mine dust on rural communities. It's all completely legal.”
“Where is the certainty for local residents fighting to protect their kid's health, and the future of their communities? We need our elected representatives to stop defaming us, and start listening. Give us the laws we need to put limits on the mining industry, and protect the things we hold dear.”