O’Farrell votes down suspension of Obeid related coal licence 19-16

MEDIA RELEASE  –  21 November 2012

The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining Jeremy Buckingham moved an urgent motion in the NSW Legislative Council today calling for the suspension of the Mt Penny and Doyles Creek coal exploration licences currently subject to an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry.

The Government combined with the Christian Democrats and the Shooters Party to vote the motion down 19 votes to 16.

“Barry O’Farrell is failing in his duty to protect the NSW community by continuing to hide behind ICAC instead of taking action to protect communities in the Bylong and Hunter Valleys and suspend these licences now,” Mr Buckingham said.

“Section 125 of the Mining Act grants the Minister the power to suspend these licences but the Government prefers to remain oblivious to the serious revelations coming out of ICAC.

“The ball is now in the Premier’s court. He can either take action to suspend the licences, bring in legislation with the support of the Greens to create the necessary powers or continue to allow very wealthy individuals to profit from coal licences regardless of any dishonesty or corruption in the process.

“Residents in the Bylong Valley who have been fighting these licences for years will continue to suffer unnecessarily and be forced to fight the mining applications – even while the ICAC hearings are still occurring and evidence of gross dishonesty in the process continue to be uncovered.

“Barry O’Farrell should give these residents some certainty while the ICAC investigation continues.

“The Greens do not understand why the Barry O’Farrell is happy to allow these licences to remain active when such large and serious questions have been raised at the ICAC hearings.”

The motion defeated today is below.

Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202  or  0419 444 916


Jeremy Buckingham MLC
Notice of Motion

Re: ICAC hearings into the issuing of coal exploration licences

I give notice that on the next sitting day I will move:

1)      That this house notes:

a)      that the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is currently conducting public hearings into the circumstances surrounding the issuing of a coal exploration licence in the Bylong Valley to Cascade Coal;

b)      the evidence presented in the hearings suggests the taxpayers of NSW has been massively short-changed by the issuing of this exploration licence for around $1million to Cascade Coal given its subsequent attempts to sell the licence for $500million;

c)       the evidence presented in the hearings suggests a significant level of dishonesty in the bid process for the licence from persons with interests in those bids;

d)      a speech by the Planning and Infrastructure Minister in the Legislative Assembly last month indicating that there were no grounds available to him as Planning Minister to suspend or terminate the current Cascade Coal application relating to their Mt Penny coal mine project;

e)      that section 125 of the Mining Act allows for the cancellation or operational suspension of an exploration licence if the Energy and Resources Minister reasonably considers that the holder of the authority provided false or misleading information in or in connection with an application; and
2)      That this house calls on the Government to:

a)      to instruct the Energy and Resources Minister to investigate options for the suspension or termination of the exploration licences subject to the current ICAC inquiries and to release any legal advice obtained publically; and

b)      if no legal avenues currently exist to suspend or terminate the licence to introduce legislation to the parliament to bring this into effect.

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