Protecting the water supply to Sydney and the Illawara should be a prime government responsibility you would think. With the jury out on whether coal seam gas can be mined without contaminating the state's aquifers, prime agricultural farmland or public water supplies the O'Farrell liberals are refusing to support an opposition Bill that would permanently ban coal seam gas exploration or mining in the water catchment areas of Sydney and the Illawarra.
If enacted, the opposition's Bill will cancel existing licences and leases relating to the exploration, assessment and production of coal seam gas in Sydney water catchment special areas. It also will prohibit the grant or renewal of new licences.
The Sydney Water Catchment Management Act and the regulations currently identified 5 special areas, 5 catchments managed and protected by the Sydney Catchment Authority—Warragamba, Woronora, Upper Nepean, Blue Mountains and the Shoalhaven. Taken together these catchments cover less than 2 per cent of NSW but supply clean drinking water to around 5 million people—60 per cent of the State's population. So precious are these water catchment special areas that, penalties of tens of thousands of dollars apply for doing things like, camping, lighting a fire, swimming or fishing in the water in any of these special areas.
What a joke, you can't light a fire for a billy but you can mine coal seam gas.
Why, you might ask is the O'Farrell government so implacably opposed to protecting our water supplies? Is all his promises like the Wallarah 2 coal mine a promise that it will never happen; "no ifs, no buts"?
The real question is what is Mr O'Farrell's real agenda?
The video of my contribution to the parliamentary debate on the Bill is here: http://youtu.be/7XqQpS1be5g