O'Farrell must cancel ICAC leases and open broad inquiry into coal development in NSW

Published: July 31, 2013

The O'Farrell Government must immediately cancel corrupt coal licences and mining development applications, following detailed revelations of corruption by the ICAC, according to the Lock The Gate Alliance.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption's Operation Jasper investigated the corrupt dealings surrounding the awarding of coal exploration leases at Mt Penny, near Bylong; at Yarrawa, near Denman; and at Glendon Brook, near Singleton. Cascade Coal currently have a coal mine development application for Mt Penny before the NSW Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard.

The O'Farrell Government must immediately cancel corrupt coal licences and mining development applications, following detailed revelations of corruption by the ICAC, according to the Lock The Gate Alliance.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption's Operation Jasper investigated the corrupt dealings surrounding the awarding of coal exploration leases at Mt Penny, near Bylong; at Yarrawa, near Denman; and at Glendon Brook, near Singleton. Cascade Coal currently have a coal mine development application for Mt Penny before the NSW Planning Minister, Brad Hazzard.

The ICAC today handed down its long awaited report on Operation Jasper, which details the corrupt relationship between several coal companies, coal company directors, and the NSW Mining Minister Ian Macdonald, who awarded the three mining leases.

“Nefarious back room deals between dodgy coal companies and a corrupt Minister led to major new coal mining projects in these areas, without any community consultation”, said Lock The Gate spokesperson Steve Phillips. “Local communities watched in bewilderment as these projects were foisted on them, and then dismay as the O'Farrell Government refused to cancel any mining licences or development applications.”

The O'Farrell Government has previously refused to cancel the corrupt licences, pending the outcome of the ICAC inquiry. The Government has also claimed that it would be open to compensation claims if the exploration licences were cancelled, however this claim has been disputed by lawyers and community groups.

“There are no more excuses – these exploration leases must be scrapped”, said Phillips. “They are corrupt, they are unwanted by the communities affected by them, and they would lead to major environmental and social problems if these new areas were opened up for coal mining.”

Lock The Gate are calling for a much broader inquiry into the system of exploration and mining lease management in NSW.

“The ICAC inquiry has focussed on a small handful of coal licences, but it has exposed the murky reality of the entire system of coal exploration and development in NSW, “ said Phillips. “Communities are locked out, back room deals are done, and mining companies get their way. This problem is far more widespread than the examples investigated by ICAC.”

“ICAC have investigated specific cases of corruption, but they do not have the power to make changes to the broken system that lead to this corruption. There needs to be a broad inquiry into coal exploration and mine development approvals in NSW, and urgent reform is needed to bring transparency and genuine public consultation into this process.”

“At the very least, all of the coal exploration leases issued by Ian Macdonald need to be subject to a forensic investigation.”

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