Another NSW mining minister

COUNCILS will play a bigger role in future coal project approvals as the O’Farrell government moves to scrap part 3A of the NSW Planning and Assessment Act. Meanwhile, Central Coast Liberal member of parliament Chris Hartcher was appointed as Resources and Energy Minister.
Another NSW mining minister Another NSW mining minister Another NSW mining minister Another NSW mining minister Another NSW mining minister

NSW Resources and Energy Minister Chris Hartcher.

Blair Price

The New South Wales state government plans to scrap part 3A when parliament resumes after Easter.

“The days of giving the Planning Minister sweeping powers to approve developments at the stroke of a pen with virtually no consultation with local communities are over,” NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell said, according to the North Shore Times.

“That extreme power only leads to the sort of suspicion and shady deals we have seen in NSW over the past 16 years.”

With around 500 applications currently in the queue, O’Farrell reportedly told the ABC that half of the applications would go to the Planning Assessment Commission.

He said a quarter will be “returned” because they would not meet requirements of the government’s planned state environmental planning policy, the news outlet reported.

While the state coalition won 69 out of 93 lower house seats, it won just 19 of the 42 upper house seats and will need to gather support from minority parties to pass or amend legislation.

Hartcher, who was also appointed as the special minister of state and as the minister for the Central Coast, will represent the government on mining issues under his resources and energy portfolio.

The New South Wales Minerals Council hopes he has a longer tour of duty than his predecessors.

“Under the last government we saw six ministerial changes in five years in the minerals portfolio alone,” NSWMC chief executive officer Nikki Williams said.

“That sort of instability made it impossible to have stable, progressive governance.”

Williams said Hartcher had a strong understanding of the challenges ahead for the mining sector through his role as the shadow minister for planning in previous years (2005-06).

Liberal MP Brad Hazzard is the new Planning and Infrastructure Minister, having held these roles in the shadow cabinet before the election.

“The coalition’s plan to repeal part 3A and rebuild the planning system from the ground up will be a mammoth task and require coordination across government to ensure that NSW keeps moving forward,” Williams said.

“We are confident that Brad Hazzard, having had the planning portfolio for some time, will be able to tackle this task with vigour.”

NSW Nationals leader and Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner picked up the trade and investment, and regional infrastructure and services portfolios.

Liberal MP Robyn Parker became the first female Environment Minister for the state.

“We’re already working with the government on a range of issues such as best-practice dust management and as minister and state MP for Maitland, Robyn is well placed to deal with the challenges ahead,” Williams said.

The state government aims to quickly advance its 100-day plan of reforms, which includes establishing a commission of inquiry into the Keneally government’s unpopular electricity assets sell-off.

“The new cabinet has a good mix of youth and experience, it is energetic and most importantly it has been listening to business and the community so it can hit the ground running,” she said.

“We trust there will be a smooth transition.”

Liberal MP Michael Gallacher is the Minister for the Hunter, replacing Jodi Mckay who lost the Labor stronghold seat of Newcastle to Liberal candidate Tim Owen by less than 1900 votes.

Kristina Keneally has stepped down as leader and has been replaced by former Unions NSW secretary John Robertson.

With only the seats of Cessnock and Wallsend retained by the Labor party in the Hunter region, Robertson has promised to make amends.

“We got the message loud and clear on Saturday that we for the last four years turned our backs on the people of NSW and the Hunter,” the ABC reported him as saying.