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New Alliance calls on O'Farrell to suspend ICAC licences

Media Release, 4th February 2013, Hunter & Central Rivers Alliance

A new regional alliance of 34 community groups has called on NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell to suspend all licenses subject to the current Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiries under Operations Jasper and Acacia.

The Hunter and Central Rivers Alliance (HCRA) is a collaboration between community groups (listed below), covering the Central Coast, Greater Hunter, Gloucester, Great Lakes, and Manning Regions.

The groups in the Alliance are campaigning to restore balance to decision making on coal and coal seam gas development in the region. The Alliance met in Rutherford over the weekend.

“The evidence given in ICAC hearings last week is damning,” said Steve Phillips, regional coordinator for Lock the Gate, one of the HCRA groups. “While we recognise that the investigation is not over, it would be irresponsible to allow continued exploration in license areas that may have been issued under a flawed and corrupt process.”

“A pause on exploration is a sensible response that recognises the impact that uncertainty around these projects is having on local communities, landholders, and other stakeholders,” said Phillips.

The Alliance rejects the claims by the Premier that he does not have the power to suspend these licenses.

"The Government has refused to release the advice on which this claim is based, and has the numbers in the Parliament to change the law to protect communities where needed," stated John Kaye, a Denman resident and member of the Hunter Communities Network.

The new alliance is also concerned about the health impacts of the coal and coal seam gas industries, especially the existing impacts of coal dust, which stand to become much worse if the industry is allowed to expand.

"We are urging all Senators to commit to a Hunter regional hearing of the current Senate inquiry into the health impacts of air pollution," said Graeme Healy, of the Barrington Gloucester Stroud Preservation Alliance.

"The Hunter is an air pollution black spot, due to the mining activity here. The inquiry needs to visit the Hunter and hear our stories."

The 34 member groups of the Hunter and Central Rivers Alliance are: Australian Coal Alliance;
Barrington Gloucester Stroud Preservation Alliance; Black Hill and Buttai Environment Protection
Group; Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association; Bylong Valley Protection Alliance; Camberwell
Community; Central Coast Community Environment Network; Climate Action Newcastle; Coal Terminal
Action Group; Correct Planning and Consultation for Mayfield; Goucester Residents in Partnership;
Hunter Communities Network; Hunter Community Environment Centre; Hunter Environment Lobby;
Hunter Valley Protection Alliance; Karuah River Protection Group; Lock The Gate; Lower Belford
Residents Alliance; Manning Clean Water Action Group; Maryville Community Group; Merriwa Healthy
Environment Group; Mountain Districts Association; Mudgee District Environment Group; Our Land,
Our Water, Our Future; Reclaim Our Valley (Jerrys Plains); Rising Tide Newcastle; Rivers SOS; Save
Bunnan; Save Gloucester; Singleton Shire Health Environment Group; Stockton Community Action
Group; The Wilderness Society Newcastle; Throsby Villages Alliance; Wollombi Against Gas Extraction.

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