Time to clean up the mining industry’s community consultative committees
MEDIA RELEASE – 11 April 2014
The Greens NSW spokesperson on mining, Jeremy Buckingham, today called on the government to reform the regulations around mining community consultative committees (CCC) after it was revealed that one woman, Margaret Macdonald-Hill was employed as the independent chair of 15 different CCCs by seven different mining companies and that her payments have not been disclosed.
Gary West, former Nationals MP, former mining minister and current Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) member and Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) member also chairs the Integra Vale CCC, the Ulan coal CCC, Moorlaben coal CCC, and the BHP Caroona CCC for undisclosed sums.
The Department of Planning Guidelines for CCCs make it clear that payments to the ‘independent chair’ should be disclosed on the website:
“If such fees or expenses are paid, then the company should indicate that this is occurring on the company’s website, so that the broader community remains fully informed.”
“I cannot find a single instance where a resource company has publicly declared the payments to the ‘independent chair’ of their CCC. These companies are in breach of the planning department’s rules,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.
“Undeclared payments directly from the mining company undermine the independence of the chair and the community’s confidence in the CCC. The current system means that the community often perceives the ‘independent chair’ as simply a stooge of the mining company.
“The regulations should be changed so that the ‘independent chair’ is appointed and paid by the government, not by the mining companies. The chair’s payment should be publicly disclosed by the government.
“The Greens want reform of the CCCs because communities have lost all faith in them and see them more as a facade on consultation that simply does the companies bidding and ties up the community.
“It’s an outrageous conflict of interest that former Nationals MP Gary West can be paid by coal companies to chair CCCs, and then also have a role as a decision maker with the PAC and JRPP. Gary West is notoriously pro-coal and was on the PAC that approved the controversial Maules Creek coal mine.
“The government must clean up with part of the mining sector. The people of NSW are sick of corruption and cronyism. The Greens will continue our push for clean politics,” he said.
Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916