The appointment of NSW MPs to new ministerial portfolios is an opportunity to put the needs of mining-affected communities at the forefront of the Berejiklian Government’s agenda, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.
LTGA has released a to-do list for the ministers responsible for planning, regional development and the environment, following the appointment of Gladys Berejiklian’s new Cabinet.
The Premier announced on Sunday that Rob Stokes would return to the planning portfolio, Matt Kean would become Minister for Environment and Energy, and the mining and resources portfolio would be absorbed into Regional NSW, Industry and Trade, held by the Deputy Premier, John Barilaro.
Lock the Gate spokesperson Georgina Woods said the Cabinet reshuffle was an opportunity to reset the Government’s policy on coal mining and CSG, with the industries having soured its relationship with regional communities in recent years.
"Our top three priorities are that these ministers deliver long-promised protection for farmland and water resources from mining, stop the damaging coal seam gasfield proposed near Narrabri and kick-start a sustainable jobs boom in the Hunter region to replace declining coal exports,” she said.
"A new approach is needed so that new coal mines like the Bylong mine near Mudgee and the Vickery mine near Boggabri, which will do untold damage to farmland and water resources, are not approved”
"These three Ministers have a historic opportunity to restore balance in regions affected by coal mining, where agricultural industries are losing land and water to mining.
"There are a dozen expired coal seam gas licences languishing over the farmland, bushland, rivers and communities of the North West, all of which pre-date the Government’s CSG reforms of 2014 and all of which should be cancelled given they are a legacy of the bad old days.
"Crucially, these three ministers should now work together to deliver the transition strategy for coal mining communities that the NSW Independents have nominated as a priority for this term of parliament.
"The terminal decline of global coal markets could leave thousands jobless if we don’t get in front of the changes that are underway and create new and sustainable opportunities for rural New South Wales, as the world shifts to renewable energy."