The appointment of a NSW Minerals Council representative to an expert panel that is meant to oversee the Hunter Region’s diversification beyond coal risks undermining the work the group was established to do.
The Alliance says the appointment of a member of the coal lobby interferes with the panel’s purpose and creates a risk that some of the transition funding may end up in the hands of multi-national coal mining companies.
The NSW Perrottet Government yesterday revealed the eight person interim expert panel that would guide spending from the $25 million per annum Royalties for Rejuvenation fund.
The fund was created to ensure coal mining communities have the support they need to develop other industries in the medium and long-term.
Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said having a member of the Minerals Council on the panel would compromise its ability to make objective recommendations that diversified the Hunter’s economy.
“It makes no sense to appoint a coal mining lobbyist to a panel that is meant to advise on the best way to diversify the Hunter’s economy beyond coal,” she said.
“We are calling on NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole to remove the NSW Minerals Council’s representative, and to promise that none of this $25 million will go to coal mining companies.
“We’re pleased the government is moving swiftly to get the Hunter on the road to renewal, but the coal mining industry already dominates the political and economic landscape in the Hunter. It doesn’t need any more influence.
“We need a panel that gives community, environment, Indigenous and local business groups space to plan for the diversification of the region beyond coal.
“The coal mining lobby is yet to acknowledge that expanding coal is completely at odds with global efforts to prevent catastrophic climate change.
“At this crucial moment, when we finally have funding to help diversify the Hunter’s economy, the NSW Perrottet Government must ensure industries and communities other than coal mining have space to grow and plan - without the coal lobby breathing down their necks.”