Windsor threat to coal after deadlocked election result

COAL projects in the Gunnedah Basin of New South Wales are set to come under even more scrutiny as federal MP Tony Windsor is part of the small group of independents which will decide the new government.
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Federal MP for New England Tony Windsor

Blair Price

A total of 76 seats in the House of Representatives is required to form government with the Coalition predicted to land 73 by the time all of the votes are counted while the Labor party is expected to hold onto 72.

This gives the three independent MPs the ability to pick which team to side with, while newly elected Greens federal MP Adam Bandt is expected to side with Labor.

Windsor, the member for the seat of New England, has supported the Caroona Coal Action Group’s resistance against the development of BHP Billiton’s Caroona Coal longwall project.

He has also taken shots at China Shenhua Energy’s Watermark project in the region.

In mid-July, federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson announced that $A15 million of federal funds would help support the 18-month Namoi water study in the Liverpool Plains of New South Wales.

The move was supported by the CCAG and Windsor, who have long lobbied for an independent water study.

The new study will look at the potential impact that coal mining and coal seam gas extraction could have on the region’s water resources.

The water study covers the surface and groundwater resources in the Liverpool Plains, including the Peel River and Mooki River, Maules Creek and Plan Creek.

BHP’s Caroona Coal project often gets most of the negative attention, but other companies with key projects in the region include Santos, Coalworks, Aston Resources, Whitehaven and Shenhua.

Windsor, along with other country independent MPs Bob Katter and Rob Oakeshott, supports the development of the National Broadband Network put forward by the Labor party while in government.

Last month Windsor was “delighted” that Armidale was selected as the first NBN release site.

The issue of improving telecommunications in regional areas could make the country independents lean towards forming a Labor-dominated government, but the Coalition also has a separate NBN plan and negotiations could continue for at least a few days.

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