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Barilaro must be brought into line and not allowed to put drinking water at risk

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and her government colleagues need to stand up to Deputy Premier John Barilaro and defend Sydney and the Illawarra’s drinking water from his latest attacks, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.

It was reported today that Mr Barilaro visited the Illawarra as part of his ongoing interference in the Independent Planning Commission’s ruling that the Dendrobium coal mine extension posed too great a risk to the water catchment to proceed.

Lock the Gate Alliance NSW spokesperson Nic Clyde said Mr Barilaro’s undermining of the IPC’s independence and scientific integrity was totally unacceptable, especially given it threatened to bring down the planning laws overseen by Planning Minister Rob Stokes.

He called on the Premier and her colleagues to stand up to Mr Barilaro.

“It’s telling that Mr Barilaro appears to have only met with stakeholders today who want to build the destructive coal mine extension, not the agency responsible for managing and safeguarding the region’s drinking water or the scientists who gave frank and fearless advice to the Independent Planning Commission,” said Mr Clyde.

“Just like when he wanted to ride roughshod over koalas, Mr Barilaro is raging against scientific expertise, and is pushing an opinion that is out of touch with the community’s expectations.

“This is a brutish political intervention from Mr Barilaro when what is needed is decision-making based on facts, prioritising water security of the region. It is reckless of the Deputy Premier to further compromise the independence of the Planning Commission. The public expects these decisions to be made based on sober risk assessment. 

“The NSW Government’s knee-capping of the IPC has already turned the authority into a one-toothed tiger. We do not want to see it weakened further into a gummy pussy cat at Mr Barilaro’s request.

“Mr Barilaro should direct his outrage at South32 for disregarding advice and refusing to amend its mine plan for the extension. 

“Let’s be clear, if you want to mine in a highly sensitive and valuable catchment area, you need to demonstrate that you’re responsible and take the environment seriously.

“The protection of the drinking water relied on by more than five million people must not be put at risk simply because a politician wants to shoot from the hip and keep mining companies happy.”

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