Regional leaders urge Senate to vote down handing coal and coal seam gas mining approvals to states
More than 180 rural and Indigenous leaders, scientists and farmers from right across Australia, including former Federal MP Tony Windsor, are calling for Australian Senators to vote down the Abbott Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Bilateral Agreement Implementation) Bill 2014 in the Senate this week.
If passed, the Bill will hand groundwater assessment powers and approvals for coal and coal seam gas mining to state and territory governments.
The leaders say that the National Party will be voting against rural interests if it votes for the bill, and especially ask Palmer United Party senators and Senator Ricky Muir to defend rural interests and vote down the bill.
The leaders have signed on to an open letter to Australian Senators, saying that the future of our scarce water resources is too important to leave to state governments with a conflict of interest and a history of failure with mining regulation.
OPEN LETTER TO AUSTRALIAN SENATORS
Water is integral to farming, food security, Indigenous life and culture, our communities and Australia’s economy. It is too important to leave to state and territory governments and their vested interests, which have been especially highlighted through the recent NSW ICAC investigations into political corruption.
All political parties voted for the water trigger to be added to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act so the Federal Government could assess impacts of mining developments on our precious groundwater, yet the Abbott Government now proposes to hand these powers to the states and territories.
Decisions over groundwater are too important to hand to individual states, and water knows no boundaries. A decision on groundwater in one state will affect neighbouring states. The Great Artesian Basin, for example, covers three states, NSW, Queensland and South Australia, as well as the Northern Territory. Gas companies want to puncture this essential water resource for inland Australia with hundreds of wells.
We implore all senators to vote against the Abbott Government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Bilateral Agreement Implementation) Bill 2014, which will hand groundwater assessment powers to states and territories.
The National Party will be voting against the farmers’ interests if they vote for the bill. The Palmer United Party and Senator Ricky Muir have shown they will stand up for the community and now they have the opportunity to show they support farmers and Indigenous communities across Australia and vote down the bill.