Planning Commission conflicts of interest and meeting cancellation prompts renewed call for mining inquiry

Published: December 12, 2018

Lock the Gate Alliance has renewed its call for a Special Commission of Inquiry into the NSW mining sector following the sudden removal of two Planning Commissioners from a panel considering the controversial United Wambo coal mine project.

Their removal due to conflicts of interest meant the community was given just two hours notice that a public meeting about the project scheduled for this afternoon had been cancelled.

Commissioner Alice Clarke stood down from the panel considering the mine on Monday because her husband holds options in Glencore, one of the two proponents of the mine.

Today her replacement Commissioner Geoffrey Sharrock stood down from the panel because he used to be a managing director at Wambo Mining Corporation.

The two resignations came just days after a Commissioner tasked with considering the Vickery coal mine expansion in NSW’s northwest also stood down over a conflict of interest.

Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said the public could not be expected to have any confidence in the planning system as it relates to mining.

"We have now seen three Commissioners step down in four days from two different mine project panels. Why are people with these types of conflicts even on the Commission?

"Cancelling this public meeting with two hours notice left community members angry and confused. The public is being treated with contempt.

"Other aspects of the planning portfolio are also in disarray after four whistleblowers have raised major issues with the administration of mining titles by the Department of Planning.

"Communities are being ripped apart by mining projects being considered by a planning system that is not operating objectively and which has lost the confidence of NSW residents.

"We urgently need the NSW Government to return the rights of communities to test resource projects on their merits in court and to immediately create a Special Commission of Inquiry into the mining sector in NSW.

"All mining projects that are currently being assessed should be put on hold until this process is complete," she said.

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