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Alliance Calls for Inquiry as Mines Minister Bites the Dust

The Lock the Gate Alliance has called for a broad-ranging inquiry into the management of coal and coal seam gas mining in NSW, after Mineral Resources Minister Chris Hartcher resigned from Cabinet today following reports of an ICAC raid on his office.

The action by ICAC is understood to relate to alleged illegal donations which forced the suspension of Mr Hartcher's former staffer, Ray Carter.

"Chris Hartcher is the third Minister for minerals resources to fall under the shadow of an ICAC investigation this year, following corrupt conduct findings against former Ministers Eddie Obeid and Ian MacDonald" said Carmel Flint, Campaign Co-ordinator with Lock the Gate Alliance.

"The community has lost all faith in the integrity of the Ministers who control mining in this state, and can no longer trust the NSW Government to put the interests of the wider public ahead of the profit-driven agenda of mining companies. 

"Even though we understand today's actions by the ICAC are not directly related to coal or gas mining, if Mr Hartcher is found to have acted corruptly, it means that once again, mining in this state has been overseen by someone that does not uphold the highest standard of integrity and cannot be trusted to act in the public interest

"The only way to restore public belief in the system is conduct a comprehensive inquiry into the management of coal and gas resources in NSW, and to make far-reaching changes to reduce Ministerial discretion and introduce strict checks and balances.

"The first step should be to fully implement the recommendations that have been made by ICAC on mining law reform to date and then to conduct a far more broad-reaching and independent inquiry into all aspects of mining law and regulation in NSW.

"The future of our finest agricultural lands, precious water resources and thriving rural communities is at stake - we can no longer allow the shadow of corruption to cloud decision-making on these important matters" she said.

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