Sunday, 17 November 2013

O'Farrell Liberal Government shamed by Labor into placing on hold CSG in Sydney water catchment

The O’Farrell Government has been shamed by Labor into placing a temporary hold on coal seam gas activity in Sydney’s core water catchment areas, Opposition Leader John Robertson said today.

“The only problem is they haven’t gone far enough,” said Mr Robertson.

“Barry O’Farrell should be adopting Labor’s policy in full – which is to permanently ban coal seam gas mining in our water catchments.

“Announcing a temporary ban is classic O’Farrell politics. The community deserves better from the Premier on this issue.”

Mr Robertson has called on the Government to swallow its pride and support the legislation introduced by Labor into the Parliament on October 17, 2013, which would permanently ban coal seam gas activity from core water catchment areas.

“The O’Farrell Government has been shamed into half-hearted action,” Mr Robertson said.

“The legislation I have introduced would permanently ban coal seam gas activities in the core water catchment areas of Sydney, the Illawarra and the Blue Mountains.

“I say to the Premier - why announce a hold when you can legislate a ban?

“Labor recognises there are certain no-go zones where we should never allow coal seam gas extraction – and core water catchment areas are foremost amongst them.

“Labor is committed to exploring a ban on coal seam gas activities in water catchment areas right across NSW – including the Far North Coast, the Central Coast, the Mid North Coast and the Northern Tablelands.

“By contrast, nothing in the Government’s announcement offers any hope to regional residents concerned about their drinking water supply.”

One of Mr Robertson’s first acts as leader was to declare Labor’s support for an immediate moratorium on the coal seam gas industry in NSW until it can be proven scientifically safe.

In February this year I told parliament that the O'Farrell government has not gone far enough. I set out below what I had to say:

Mr RON HOENIG (Heffron) [3.46 p.m.]: I wish to amend the motion. I move:

      That this House notes the New South Wales Government's decision to change the regulation and restrictions on the New South Wales coal seam gas industry and notes it does not go far enough.
The O'Farrell Government has been dragged screaming to this decision. The Coalition has been in government since March 2011. What was the view of the Opposition in November 2011 when it called for a moratorium on coal seam gas? The Labor Party said in November 2011 that coal seam gas had the potential to damage our drinking water and compromise food security; that there should be the immediate commission of an independent inquiry into the coal seam gas industry chaired by scientific experts to assess the real impact of coal seam gas; and that coal seam gas exploration licences should be suspended before irreparable damage was caused. That was in November 2011. Here we are in February 2013 and the Government has been forced into this decision.

Alan Jones—somebody who is probably more well known by those opposite than by members on this side of the House—has been conducting a campaign since 2011, drawing to the State's attention the impact of coal seam gas on drinking water, farms and aquifers. On 19 October 2011 Mr Jones told the press club that miners were equipped to rip off and rob the farmers. I have moved this amendment noting that the O'Farrell Government's decision does not go far enough because 11 coal seam gas wells in water catchment areas south-west of Sydney are untouched by this announcement. Those coal seam gas wells are located within 500 metres of the World Heritage listed Wollemi National Park. Members opposite who seek to interject think they are somehow pure. But some would think there is an election coming up this year. The fact that drilling was to occur under the Federal electorate of Macarthur might be the cause of their new-found knowledge. I remind the House that on 5 February 2013 the Minister for Resources and Energy told the Centre for Independent Studies:
      Coal seam gas is no good to us still in the ground. You have to take it where it is. You can't say you don't want to develop it here.
The Premier of this State has since cut the rug from under Mr Hartcher's feet. I could have some sympathy for a Minister for Resources and Energy who is trying to secure future gas returns for New South Wales, but not when it will result in the destruction of the environment. The Premier had the absolute hide and temerity to say today in this House that he suddenly made a decision when the Opposition has been screaming for two years to stop the poisoning of the groundwater table. He then said the Environment Protection Authority has to defend the people of New South Wales. That authority has an atrocious record.

ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Lee Evans): Order! Government members will come to order.

Mr RON HOENIG: One has only to look at the level of mercury poisoning and carcinogens in the Botany aquifer or at Sydney's air quality. The Environment Protection Authority could not protect a fly from Mortein spray. Every member of this House is responsible for these coal seam gas decisions. The vested interests seemed to walk straight over the environment and the future protection of the people of New South Wales. The Premier should say, "We made a mistake: we were looking to the long-term supply of energy for New South Wales and it is not sustainable." He should not come into this place and pretend to have a good environmental track record—those opposite never had one in their lives.

No comments:

Post a Comment