The Lock the Gate Alliance says the controversial new Planning Bill being rushed through parliament by the Government this week breaches promises made before the election and will make corruption more likely, not less. The Alliance has called for a radical overhaul of the Bill.
The Planning Bill 2013 is scheduled for debate in the NSW Legislative Council this week. Lock the Gate has written to members of the NSW Upper House outlining the major failings of the Bill, which include locking the community out from access to the court system and undermining protections for precious water resources.
Lock the Gate National Coordinator, Phil Laird, said, “This Government came to power promising to hand back control of planning to the community, but this Bill reverses that commitment.
"Local Councils will have no legal role when it comes to the approval of major coal and gas projects if this Bill goes ahead, which will instead remain solely in the hands of the Minister and a few unelected officials.
“The ICAC has exposed the sordid evidence of what can happen when Ministers and bureaucrats have too much power, and mining proponents wield too much influence. The government made a compact with the people of NSW that they would ensure this could never happen again.
"However, in an extraordinary betrayal of that promise, this Bill prohibits most communities from challenging mining developments in court, and threatens to deepen land-use conflict in regional NSW.
"The Bill also reverses promises the NSW Government made in relation to managing our precious water resources. It removes the requirement for major coal and gas developments to obtain an approval from the NSW Office of Water prior to putting water resources at risk.
“We’re calling on the members of the Legislative Council to hold the Government to its election promises. This Bill needs to be radically overhauled if we are to restore balance and protect our water resources and the livelihoods of farming families threatened by mining.
"All we're asking is for Barry O'Farrell to deliver on the promises that he made to the people of NSW before the last election. He said he'd resign if he didn't deliver on those promises, and if this Bill isn't overhauled, then he should do just that" Mr Laird said.
Lock The Gate Alliance Letter to MPs available on request.