NSW won't 'bust coal corruption'

THE Lock the Gate Alliance has criticised the New South Wales government’s strategic statement on coal for failing to implement recommendations made by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Blair Price

The state government’s statement, released in August with the public comment period on the guidelines ending last week, included goals to overhaul the regulatory regime in the wake of the shady coal tenure deals ICAC has exposed so far.

The strategy also revealed the government was targeting a 30% increase in the value of mining production by 2021.

“The NSW government will work towards this goal while managing potential land use conflicts between coal mining and urban growth, agriculture and our environment,” it said in the strategy statement.

“We will provide a clear and transparent planning and regulatory framework to ensure that decisions are based on merit and appropriately balance competing land uses for the benefit of the state and local communities.”

LTG filed its response to the statement – with which it is disappointed on several fronts – on Friday.

“There is no triple-bottom line assessment in these guidelines, so one of the most crucial corruption-busting elements of the ICAC’s recommendations has to date been ignored,” LTG spokeswoman Georgina Woods said.

"Until social and environmental assessments are brought upfront and protection areas established for water resources, farmland and communities, New South Wales will continue with its current unfair and unsustainable coal free-for-all, and miners will keep on gaming the system.

"ICAC also recommended that the coal allocation process should align with the goals of the NSW 2021 State Plan, but again the NSW Government has fallen short.

"They haven't delivered quality regional plans or protection of water resources and they haven't reformed the planning process or handed decision-making powers back to communities as required by the State Plan. They won't bust coal corruption with this effort.”

Woods also said the statement ignored major challenges like water and land conflict, the exhaustion of resources and slumping coal demand.

"There is nothing strategic about ignoring the people who have to live with coal mining every day or ignoring the rapid changes now occurring in energy markets,” she said.

"That's why we need root and branch reform as part of the government's response to the ICAC's findings, and why we're challenging Premier [Mike] Baird and his government to hold a series of public forums in coal-affected regions to ask the community what they want and prepare for a future where coal is no longer king.”

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