Lock the Gate President Drew Hutton has called on the NSW Government to rule out former federal Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson from filling the recently announced NSW Land and Water Commissioner role.
Rumours have been circulating over the last few days that the O'Farrell Government has been considering the former Chairman of Eastern Star Gas who controlled exploration licences in the Gunnedah area and Pilliga Forest before selling to Santos in late 2011.
"According to NSW Nationals leader Andrew Stoner the commissioner is supposed to oversee the regulation of invasive exploration activity on Strategic Regional Land," Mr Hutton said.
However, as Chairman of Eastern Star Gas, Mr Anderson oversaw more than 20 environmental and safety incidents in the Pilliga Forest that has polluted creeks and killed trees."
See the report by Santos here.
Earlier this year Santos reported, following an internal investigation, 'an unacceptable culture in Eastern Star of accepting minor spills, failures in reporting and the possibility of unapproved land clearing on some sites.'
"To appoint John Anderson would be an acceptance by the O'Farrell Government of this unacceptable culture in the coal seam gas industry," Mr Hutton said.
"A political appointment such as this will only exacerbate community concerns about the intention of the O'Farrell Government to strengthen coal seam gas regulations in NSW. It is completely unacceptable.
"I have witnessed the appointment and operation of the Queensland Gas Commissioner. The NSW Government must ensure the person chosen is truly independent and has the confidence of the community.
"John Anderson is widely regarded to have run roughshod over the community and disregarded the potential impact of Easter Star Gas's production plans and pipelines on the important agricultural land of the Liverpool Plains and New England areas."