Lock the Gate Alliance has described the changes to Federal environment laws announced by Minister Tony Burke this morning as a step forward on a long road to genuine law reform to control inappropriate coal and gas mining across Australia.
Last week, the Alliance launched a national reform agenda, 'Call to Country', which included 8 actions that the Federal Government can take to protect communities and the environment from inappropriate mining. The inclusion of a water trigger was a minor component of that plan.
"This reform today is a step forward on a long road to genuine reform of coal and gas mining laws in Australia. It has only been achieved because of the determination of people all around Australia to protect our priceless water resources," said Carmel Flint, Campaign Co-ordinator for Lock the Gate Alliance.
"We congratulate all the members of parliament who have taken heed of the extraordinary and far-reaching community concern on this issue.
"A water trigger is a useful addition to the federal laws - but it means nothing unless it is backed up by the political courage to reject damaging coal and gas mining projects.
"The current Federal Government has approved every coal mine and gasfield that has ever been referred to it - there have been many environmental triggers, just not the courage to act on them.
"The real test of this change will be in whether the Federal Government rejects the coal mines planned for the Liverpool Plains, and the Arrow coal seam gas project in Queensland which was slammed in a review by the Expert Scientific Committee yesterday.
"There is plenty more to be done and we will continue to work with communities all around Australia to implement our Call to Country to deliver far-reaching reforms.
"We are amazed that the Coalition is planning to oppose the changes - this is a major test for them and they need to listen to farming communities and rural constituents.
"We will be seeking changes as the reform is debated in Parliament to give the Expert Scientific Committee a full decision-making role in determining projects, and to ensure these new powers can't be handed straight back to the states after the election," she said.