The NSW Berejiklian Government has abandoned landholders across the northwest, after it delayed debate on Justin Field’s private members Bill to slay long-expired zombie petroleum licences until after the Upper Hunter by-election.
In a move Lock the Gate and north west farmers have labelled a “political dodge”, the government today referred the zombie-slaying Bill to a committee for review, thereby delaying debate and a decision on its fate for potentially another three months.
The Committee has until 12 August to report, but Lock the Gate and local landholders argue the community has waited years already and the government’s politically-motivated move has prolonged their agony.
Mullaley farmer Margaret Fleck, whose beef property is affected by one of the expired PELs said, “According to the Government’s own use-it-or-lose it policy, these licences should have already been extinguished.
“Our communities have been writing to the government and asking them to give us certainty and protection by cancelling these licences for years and we never get a straight answer.
“It’s bitterly disappointing that instead of coming to a decision to support Mr Field’s Bill, the government has dodged this issue again.”
Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said, “This is a political dodge at the expense of farming and rural communities that simply want certainty to invest and thrive. They can’t do that while the NSW Government lets Santos and Comet Ridge cling on to unused coal seam gas licences, holding a region hostage to destructive and expensive gas.
“The Deputy Premier doesn’t need to wait for a committee, or for special legislation. He doesn’t need to wait until after the Upper Hunter by-election.
“He can give the community what it has been demanding and extinguish these zombie gas licences today, and that’s what we’re strongly urging him to do.”