Category Archives: Blog

Esoteric parliamentary intrigue on CSG Prohibition Bill vote

A bit of esoteric parliamentary intrigue.  It was bit of tricky maneuvering by the government that meant the final vote on the CSG Prohibition Bill was 16 for - 19 against, rather than 17 for - 18 against.

Under the Westminster parliamentary system, the member in the Speaker or President’s Chair during a vote, does not get to participate in the vote.  They only get to cast a tie-breaking vote if a vote of other members is tied.

Another feature of the system is the ‘pairing’ of MPs.  This is an informal arrangement between parties to ensure the balance of numbers stays the same when an MP is sick or outside parliament on official business).

Yesterday, just before the vote on the Coal Seam Gas Prohibition Bill, Christian Democrat MP Paul Green was in the chair presiding over the debate.  The bells were rung for a division (vote) and MPs entered the chamber.

Liberal MP Don Harwin, who is the President of the Legislative Council (Upper House) and usually sits in the chair during votes, came into the chamber to assume the chair, but was quickly waved away by Liberal Whip Peter Phelps (the Whip organises MPs during parliamentary votes).  President Harwin went back to his office as one of the three pairs.

The effect of all this was to skew the vote.  It meant Paul Green, who would have voted with his leader Fred Nile for the bill was denied a vote, while the Liberals gained an extra vote by not having to fill the chair.

While the vote would still have been lost, it would have been a margin of 1 vote, rather than 3 votes.  That’s how close we really came to making history and the Upper House passing a bill to restrict coal seam gas.

Here is how the vote was recorded on NSW Parliament’s Hansard:

Question—That the bill be read a second time—put.

The House divided.

CSG Vote

Crashing the Carnival of Coal

Just crashed the “Carnival of Coal” here at State Parliament. Liberal Party MP Peter Phelps, who organised the event, delivered a stirring speech which included lines like: “Coal is the most pro-human of all substances” and “To love coal, is to love humanity”. He said that as a gamer, he was concerned that in games like SimCity, when you build a coal-fired power station it creates pollution, and that is “subtle indoctrination”. He ended by declaring that Tony Abbott was right on coal. After his speech, the small crowd of Liberal, National MPs and coal industry executives shouted three cheers to coal - hip hip hooray…

Revolving Doors Queensland

Revolving Doors Queensland - compiled by Simone Marsh

A list of some of the people who have switched from government to the gas industry in Queensland.

  1. Justice David Thomas – was a partner at Minter Ellison law firm, also on Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney’s ‘Infrastructure Queensland’ advisory board (Newman Government).  Minter Ellison represents the upstream gas industry and presents at APPEA conferences.  APPEA’s chief operating officer Eastern Australia was also on the ‘Infrastructure Queensland’ advisory board.  David Thomas is also chairman of the board of the Queensland Ballet. The Principal Partner (sponsor) of the Queensland Ballet is QGC. According to the Courier Mail (27 April 2012), David Thomas was one of the ‘Players’ in the Top 50 most influential people in Queensland. By August 2013, David Thomas had been appointed Supreme Court Justice for Queensland by Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie (Newman Government). David Thomas’ brother is Geoffrey Thomas, the Queensland-Texas diplomat, and special commissioner between the state of Queensland and North America.


  1. Geoffrey Thomas - brother of Justice David Thomas. Queensland-Texas diplomat, and special commissioner between the state of Queensland and North America. In 2012, Tim Nicholls (Newman’s Minister for Trade) appointed Geoffrey Thomas and John Mickel (Bligh’s Minister for Trade) to review Trade and Investment Queensland (TIQ). In October 2013, Geoffrey Thomas was made deputy chairman of a newly created TIQ board.


  1. Ross Rolfe AO – CEO at Stanwell Corporation, a Queensland government-owned corporation (until 2005); Queensland Government’s Coordinator-General and Director-General of Premier and Cabinet (2005-2007); appointed CEO of Babcock & Brown (2008), buyer of Braemer Power station (natural gas) from ERM Group; Alinta Energy Group (2008), owner of Braemar-1 (natural gas) Power Station; CEO Redbank Energy Limited (2008-2011); Infigen Energy (2011); non-executive director WDS (since 2008) and chairman of WDS Limited (since 2011). (Len Gill is also a director of WDS and Redbank Energy). WDS provides drilling services, pipeline construction and a range of gasfield services for the gas industry. Clients include AGL, ERM Power, QGC Santos, Origin and Arrow Energy.  Non-executive chairman of the board of CS Energy, a Queensland Government owned corporation, since May 2012.


  1. Jon Grayson –previously Queensland Treasury (Analyst 1983-90,  Director-Special Projects 1990-99); Babcock & Brown (2000–09); then owner Queensland Infrastructure Partners (2009-12); Gasfields Water Management partnership with Australian Water Queensland; Gasfields Water and Waste Services Pty Ltd; was most recently the Director-General of the Queensland Department of Premier and Cabinet, and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority board member.


  1. Anthony (Tony) Bellas – was the Deputy Under-Treasurer of Queensland; then chairman of Ergon Energy Corporation, a Queensland government-owned corporation; director ERM Power (since 2009); non-executive chair roles at Guildford Coal Limited from 2010-12; became chairman of ERM Power in 2011; simultaneously appointed by Queensland government Independent Review Panel to make recommendations regarding the electricity industry (ERM Power gave $16,500 to the LNP on 25 May 2012, five days before the Newman Government appointed Bellas); also a director of Australian Water Queensland. Metgasco’s largest shareholder is ERM Power. Metgasco’s chairman is Len Gill. Len Gill is CEO of Australian Energy Business at Singapore Power Ltd (a major investor in Alinta), and director of Redbank Energy.


  1. Ben Myers – moved from coal seam gas company QGC; to become Chief of Staff at the Office of the Queensland Premier Campbell Newman. Brother of Luke Myers (a lobbyist at Government Relations Australia, which has QGC as a client).


  1. Mitch Grayson – (moved from the Office of the Queensland Premier (Mar-Sept 2012); to become a media advisor at coal seam gas company Santos (Oct 2012-Nov 2013); and then back to government as a senior media officer at the Office of the Queensland Premier (Nov 2013- Feb 2015). Mitch Grayson is Jon Grayson’s nephew.


  1. Tony Mooney – from Mayor of Townsville (1989-2008); to board member of Ergon Energy Corporation; director of Maynelion from 2008 (Maynelion lobbies for Dinorden, and Dinorden advises Adani Mining); to board member of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority from 2011; and a Guildford Coal mining executive.


  1. Wayne Myers – board member of Ergon Energy Corporation Limited (a Queensland government-owned corporation) in 2009, during the period when Anthony (Tony) Bellas was chairman of Ergon Energy Corporation Limited; managing director of Dinorden Pty Ltd (advises Adani Mining); director of the Queensland branch of Australian Water Holdings.


  1. Santo Santoro – member of the Legislative Assembly of Queensland (1989-2001); member of the Australian Senate (2002-07) representing Queensland; Vice president of the federal Liberal Party (2011-14); owner of registered lobbying firm Santo Santoro Consulting; Director of Australian Water Queensland (2012).


  1. Jon Black – spent 25 years in the Australian Army; then became CEO of the whole-of-South East Queensland (SEQ) water and sewage distribution business; and CEO of Unitywater (2009), the Norther SEQ Distributor-Retailer Authority. Jon Black was associated with Tony Bellas (chairman of ERM Power and Shine Lawyers) and Jon Grayson during the Newman government administration. Jon Black chaired the Newman government’s ‘Interdepartmental Committee’ (IDC) on Electricity Sector Reform 2012-2013. The two other members of the IDC were Jon Grayson (Director-General of Premier and Cabinet, and Tony Bellas’ business partner) and Helen Gluer (the Under-Treasurer). The IDC appointed Tony Bellas (ERM Power, Gasfield Water and Waste Services, chairman of Shine Lawyers, and Jon Grayson’s business partner in their gasfields water venture), to an ‘Independent Review Panel’ (IRP) to make recommendations regarding Queensland’s electricity sector. They recommended the privatisation of state-owned electricity assets.  Jon Black is currently the Director-General of the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.


  1. Peter Lindsay – formerly a member of Townsville City Council (1985-96); Liberal Party MP (1996-2010) including Parliamentary Secretary to the Defense Minister and Deputy Speaker; then independent chairman of Guildford Coal (2012-2013).


  1. John Bradley – was Director-General of the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management; then Director-General of Premier and Cabinet (Bligh government). John Bradley received a very large payout when the Newman government came to power; then became CEO Energy Networks Association, the national lobbyist for gas and electricity transmitters.


  1. James Purtill – from Director-General of the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (including the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service); to Public Services Commissioner; to Santos GLNG, during the approval phase; and now Director-General, Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships.

[Note: James’ latest government profile avoids specifically mentioning his last role at Santos]


  1. Alan Feely – from Executive Director, Queensland Parks and Wildlife; to Santos GLNG during the EIS and approval phase; now Deputy Director-General Economic Participation, Queensland Department of Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander and Multi-cultural affairs.


  1. Shane McDowall – moved from Deputy Coordinator-General (during the assessment of the Santos and QGC CSG-LNG projects in 2010); to Flinders Group (consultant for BG Group/QGC). The Flinders Group (a land access, acquisition and approvals consultancy, formed by the son of the former Agforce QLD president John Cotter), was contracted to provide services to QGC.  Flinders merged with Hyder Consulting in 2014 to become Flinders Hyder (major contract with Queensland Government). John Cotter Sr. was appointed by the Newman Government as the chair of Queensland Gasfields Commission.


  1. Phil Dash – moved from Assistant Coordinator-General (during the assessment of the Santos and QGC CSG-LNG projects in 2010); to the Flinders Group (consultant for BG Group). The Flinders Group (a land access, acquisition and approvals consultancy, formed by the son of the former Agforce QLD president John Cotter), was contracted to provide services to QGC. Flinders merged with Hyder Consulting to become Flinders Hyder in 2014 (major contract with Queensland Government).


  1. Geoff Dickie – moved from Deputy Coordinator-General (during the assessment of the Santos and QGC CSG-LNG projects in 2010); to the major mining industry lobby group, the Queensland Exploration Council, including work for the Flinders Group (a land access, acquisition and approvals consultancy, formed by the son of the former Agforce QLD president John Cotter).


  1. David Edwards, the son of former Bjelke-Peterson government deputy premier Sir Llew Edwards: Queensland Government; to GHD (consultant to Santos GLNG); to Director General, Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning. David Edwards is a former media advisor to the Queensland Nationals and previous chief of staff to Jeff Seeney MP. Chairman of the Commitment for Economic Development of Australia. Trade and Investment Queensland board.


  1. Tracey Winters – previously federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson’s principal resources and energy advisor in March 2010 (at the time of QGC’s sale of Queensland’s gas in Beijing i.e. prior to state and commonwealth environmental approvals). Partner of Dr Craig Emerson (who was the federal Trade Minister in late 2010, i.e. at the time of the Commonwealth approval of the first east coast CSG-LNG projects – Santos GLNG and QGC QCLNG projects). In 2011 Tracey Winters became QGC’s General Manager Environment and Vice President Environment; and then BG Group Vice President Community, Land and Environment.


  1. Stephen Bizzell: Arrow, Bow, Armour, Dart Energy - to Non-executive Director of Queensland Treasury Corporation.


  1. Lisa Pala – moved from coal seam gas company Arrow Energy; to government as a media advisor at the Office of the Queensland Premier (Newman Government).


  1. Les Cox – moved from Arrow Energy; to become a policy advisor to the Queensland Resources Minister, Andrew Cripps MP (Newman Government).


  1. Neil McGregor – moved from Ambre Energy; to become the director of public sector renewal at the Queensland Department of Premier and Cabinet (Newman Government).

Here’s a picture of Neil McGregor and Matt Adams from 2010:


  1. Matt Adams - moved from Ambre Energy; to become a senior policy advisor to the Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney MP (Newman Government).

Here’s a picture of Matt Adams and Neil McGregor from 2010:


  1. David Usasz – was simultaneously a director at Ambre Energy (2008-2013) and a Director of Queensland Investment Corporation (2011-2014). Note that when assessing the independence of directors, the shareholding Ministers of QIC (on behalf of the State of Queensland) are required to consider “whether the director has any interest and any business or other relationship that could, or could reasonably be perceived to, materially interfere with the director’s ability to act in the best interests of QIC.”


  1. Jeff Popp – from communications manager at AECOM Australia Pty Ltd (2009-2012); to Chief of Staff, Office of the Deputy Premier (Newman Government, 2012-2015).


28. Catherine Tanna - executive Vice President Gas & Power at Shell; then executive Vice President and managing director BG Group / QGC in Queensland (2009-14) and simultaneously on the board of the RBA (from 2011-current); became managing director EnergyAustralia (July 2014).

And more movers here:

The Revolving Door between Miners and Government

The following is a list of some of the people who work  or worked as lobbyists for the mining industry who used to be or became politicians, including ministers, advisors for Liberal, Labor and National Party politicians or senior government bureaucrats.  It is by no means complete but gives a sense of the extent of the revolving door between miners and the government.  If you know of more, please let us know so we can update.

Ministers who became mining supporters

Mark Vaile

  • former deputy prime minister and leader of Nationals under the Howard Government
  • on the board of Aston Resources – now merged with Whitehaven Coal.

John Anderson

  • former deputy prime minister and leader of the Nationals under the Howard Government
  • served as Chair of coal seam gas company Eastern Star Gas (acquired by Santos)

Martin Ferguson

  • Minister for Energy & Resources under Rudd/Gilllard
  • now chair of APPEA advisory board

NSW Mineral Council

Stephen Galilee - CEO

  • Chief of staff of the then Treasurer, now NSW Premier, Mike Baird

Scott Kennan – Director Communications

  • Media Advisor to Transport Minister Michael Costa 2003 – 2004

Emma Browning – Director Government Relations

  • Media & Policy Advisor “NSW Shadow Minister” -1997-1999

Brad Emery – Director Media and Public Affairs

  • Press Secretary Federal Assistant Treasurer, Peter Dutton MP 2004-2007
  • Advisor “Australian Government” – 2000-2004
  • Media Advisor Kerry Bartlett MP – 1998 – 1999

Sue-Ern Tan – Deputy CEO NSW Minerals Council 2008-2012

  • Senior Policy Adviser- Ian McDonald, Energy and Mining Office of the NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Mineral Resources, Minister for Energy, 2006 – 2008

Ksenya Belooussova – Media Advisor at Department of Premier and Cabinet

  • Digital Communications Manager – NSW Minerals Council (2012 -2014)

Lindsay Hermes – Advisor – Ian Macfarlane, Minister for Industry at Department of Industry

  • Media and Communications Manager NSW Minerals Council 2010-2013
  • Media Advisor – 2013 Federal Election Liberal Party
  • Advisor to Deputy Leader of the Opposition ACT Government 2006 -2008

Minerals Council of Australia

Brendan Pearson – CEO

  • Assistant Secretary Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 2002-2004

John Kunkel – Deputy CEO

  • Senior Adviser, Cabinet Policy Unit Office of John Howard 2004-2007
  • Advisor to Mark Vaile, 1999-2001
  • Trade Advisor to Tim Fischer, 1998-1999

James Sorahan – Director – Taxation

  • Policy Advisor, Martin Fergusen 2010-2013
  • Policy Advisor, Chris Bowen 2007-2010
  • Policy Analyst, Australian Treasury 2005-2007

Chris Natt – Training and Education Coordinator

  • Worked for NT Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Fisheries, Minister for Mines and Energy 2005-2009

Chris McCombe – Assistant Director-Environmental Policy

  • Manager, Major Projects (Abandoned Mines Land Program) Queensland Mines and Energy 2008-2010

Third-party mining lobbyists

Liam Bathgate – Director at Australian Public Affairs

  • Lobbied for Shenua Watermark, Aston Resources (Maules Creek Coal Project) and Tenix Group
  • Chief of Staff to Barry O’Farrell 2007-2008
  • General Secretary of NSW National Party 1992 – 1997
  • Principal Private Secretary to Ian Sinclair MP (Leader of National Party) 1984 – 1987
  • Press Secretary to Doug Anthony MP (Deputy PM and Leader of Nationals) 1979 – 1984

Brian Tyson – Managing Partner at Newgate Communications

  • Lobbied for Coalpac Pty Ltd
  • Press Secretary Former NSW Premier Nick Greiner and Planning and Energy Minister Robert Webster 1987 – 1995

Larry Anthony – Founding Director at SAS Group

  • Lobbied for Shenua
  • Senior Vice President Federal Nationals 2006 – 2012

Malcolm Cole - Director of Media & Communications at SAS Group

  • Lobbied for Shenua
  • Ministerial staffer in Howard Government. LNP candidate for Moreton.

Mathew Watson – Managing Director at Repute Communications

  • Lobbied for Bickham Coal and Port Waratah Coal Services
  • Senior Communications Manager (Cabinet / Ministerial) in NSW Government 2002 – 2004

Michael van Maanen – Partner Newgate Communications 2013 – Present

  • Lobbied for Coalpac Pty Ltd
  • Adviser to the Federal Minister for Workforce Participation 2006 –2007
  • Adviser to the Federal Minister for Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs 2004 – 2006
  • Policy Adviser in Departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Foreign Affairs and Trade, Defence) 2000 – 2004

Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) 

Martin Ferguson- Chair of APPEA advisory board

  • Minister for Energy & Resources under Rudd/Gilllard

Chris Ward – Media Manager, Eastern Australia

  • Principal Media Adviser to Queensland Minister for Transport 2010 – 2011
  • Press Secretary to Federal Minister for Consumer Affairs and Small Business 2008–10
  • Senior Media Adviser to the Queensland Treasurer 2007-08
  • Senior Media Adviser to NSW Attorney and Minister for the Environment 2003–07

 Ryan Bondar – Policy and Government Relations

  • Senior Policy Advisor NSW Leader of Opposition Barry O’Farrell 2008-2010
  • Research officer Joe Hockey 2003-2004

Michael Bradley – Director External Affairs

  • Ministerial advisor  to Martin Ferguson Federal Resources and Energy Minister 2008-2010

Alexandra Gibson – Policy Director, NSW/VIC

  • Advisor to Christopher Pyne 2006-2007

Damien Hills – National Associate Director, Environment & Safety

  • Senior Policy Adviser Office of the Minister for Environment and Heritage (WA) March 2001 – February 2002

Kieran Murphy – Manager Media & Communications – Western Region

  • Communications Director Office of the Premier 2005 – 2008 (WA)

Stedman Ellis – COO,Western

  • Deputy DG, WA Department of Mines and Petroleum 2007-2010

Adam Welch – Senior Policy Adviser, Western

  • Senior Policy Officer/Policy Officer at Office of Energy – Government of Western Australia
  • Executive Office at Office of Energy – Government of Western Australia

Paul Fennelly – Chief Operating Officer, Eastern Australia

  • Director-General (CEO) of Department of State Development, Trade & Innovation-General at Queensland Government

Rebuilding Landcare in NSW - Greens Policy initiative

Rebuilding Landcare in NSW

A Greens NSW policy initiative

Landcare in NSW is in crisis. Successive Labor and Coalition governments have cut the funding and infrastructure support available to support local groups. Federally, the Coalition have ripped nearly half a billion dollars out of Landcare and in NSW the move to embed Landcare in Local Land Services has seen volunteers mired in bureaucracy and increasingly ignored.

According to Landcare NSW, they are seeing increasing reports of Landcare organisations losing staff, with some facing closure as they are simply no longer sustainable.

Landcare is one of the most important volunteer networks in the country. There are 60,000 Landcarers in NSW, with 93 percent of farmers practising Landcare and 73 percent of farmers who identify as belonging to the Landcare movement.

It is a unique community and government partnership focused on managing and restoring Australia’s natural environment and improving the sustainability of agricultural. Landcare is a democratic, grassroots movement which brings together people of all ages, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds, including Aboriginal people, and encourages the development and implementation of local processes to shift attitudes and practices towards sustainable resource use and management.

Grassroots democracy and ecological sustainability are fundamental guiding principles of both the Greens and Landcare. The Greens are proud to support Landcare as an egalitarian, inclusive, democratic movement, driven from and for the community.

Landcare is a proven, effective model. Few other “brands” enjoy as much trust and confidence in the community. And yet, successive governments have failed to adequately resource this vital community network. It is disappointing that the Coalition have only committed to half the funding being asked for by Landcare NSW.

We don’t expect volunteers in other iconic Australian institutions such as the RFS, SES and Surf Lifesaving to operate without funding, policy, leadership and support from Government. A small investment in Landcare support will leverage massive goodwill, volunteer participation and additional investment.

That is why the Greens NSW support the calls from Landcare NSW to establish a sustainable and funding model for coordination, capacity building and volunteer support and to ensure Landcare is an independent, statutory organisation. For this to be successful, cross-party support is needed and the Greens are calling on Labor, Liberal and the National Party to support our position.

The Greens NSW Landcare policy is to:

  1. Establish a Landcare NSW Trust Fund
    The Trust Fund will provide ongoing administrative funding of $7.5 million/year in perpetuity for Landcare in NSW. This will include:

    • Approximately 40 paid Volunteer Coordinators who will be embedded in district Landcare networks
    • A State-wide Landcare Coordinator and executive
    • An Aboriginal Landcare Coordinator
  2. Instigate a parliamentary inquiry to build cross party support for a new Landcare model to ensure ongoing sustainability. Among other things, this will examine:
  • Restructuring Landcare as a stand-alone, self-managed organisation reporting directly to Ministers for Environment and Agriculture
  • Creating a position for the Chair of Landcare NSW Council to sit on the Local Land Services Board of Chairs.
  • The amount of federal funding to Local Land Services which should be directly made available to Landcare for local projects (currently no guarantee of any project funding to Landcare)

Establish a Landcare NSW Trust Fund

For Landcare to be sustainable, the network needs to be adequately resourced and supported and volunteers should not be bogged down in bureaucracy. If Landcare is to operate to its full potential, empowering volunteers and landholders to make positive environmental change in their community, then there needs to be ongoing support for the management, administration and coordination of the network.

That is why the Greens policy is to support Landcare NSW’s call for a sustainable funding arrangement of $7.5 million per annum derived from a dedicated Landcare NSW Trust Fund. This is a small investment for government to make to support an existing and effective platform to deliver on the ground environmental programs and community building. Landcare will then be able to leverage this funding through its network and also seek donations which can be added to the initial funding.

The Landcare NSW Trust will initially support:

  • Approximately 40 paid Volunteer Coordinators who will be embedded in district Landcare networks
  • A State-wide Landcare Coordinator and executive
  • An Aboriginal Landcare Coordinator

The Volunteer Coordinators will be available through a tender process that local Landcare groups can enter to secure their services. This will allow each role to be leveraged by the community and to be embedded within the existing networks, helping to deliver locally designed, locally relevant and locally owned environmental projects on public and private land.

The State-wide Landcare Coordinator will report directly to the Landcare NSW Council and be supported by an executive team to leadership, policy, evaluation, training, support, information, communication and professional development for staff and volunteers. The State-wide Landcare Coordinator will work with the existing 11 Regional Landcare Coordinators, which are currently federally funded, and a new Aboriginal Landcare Coordinator who will ensure the strong ties between Aboriginal groups, like the NSW Aboriginal Land Council, and Landcare are maintained and enhanced.

Instigate a parliamentary inquiry to build cross party support for a new Landcare model to ensure ongoing sustainability.

One of the greatest strengths of the Landcare movement is that it build community capacity, social capital and leadership by empowering local volunteers to engage with locally run, locally designed and locally relevant environmental projects. But the current model, with the Landcare leadership, bureaucracy, funding and project design and coordination embedded in the Local Land Services and the Department of Primary Industries has served to disempower many Landcare groups and

The Greens support Landcare NSW’s calls for the Landcare network to become more independent and manage its own affairs by establishing Landcare as a stand-alone, self-managed organisation reporting directly to both the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Agriculture.

For such a significant reform to work it will need to be supported by all political parties, and this is why the Greens are proposing to instigate a parliamentary inquiry into the structure and funding of Landcare in NSW.

Among other things, this inquiry will examine:

  • Restructuring Landcare as a stand-alone, self-managed organisation reporting directly to Ministers for Environment and Agriculture
  • Creating a position for the Chair of Landcare NSW Council to sit on the Local Land Services Board of Chairs.
  • the amount of federal funding to Local Land Services which should be directly made available to Landcare for local projects (currently no guarantee of any project funding to Landcare)

Greens NSW response to Lock The Gate election survey

These are the answers of the Greens NSW to a questionnaire sent by Lock the Gate Alliance asking all political parties for their positions ahead of the upcoming NSW election on 28 March 2015.

1. Will your party stamp out corruption prone mine planning and approval processes, including implementing the improvements identified by the ICAC?
a) Will you or your party add mining and exploration companies to the list of banned political donors?

Yes. The Greens have already introduced legislation into the NSW Parliament which would stop mining and exploration companies donating to political parties. The NSW Greens have never accepted corporate donations and have been actively campaigning, both in parliament and the community, against the corrupting influence that such donations have on our democratic process.

b) Will you or your party remove mining and exploration lease rights from proponents who benefit from crimes of corruption engaged in by NSW Government staff and politicians?

Yes. The conga line of Labor and Coalition MPs and Ministers through ICAC has undermined the public confidence in the integrity of the major political parties and the specifically the process for granting mining and exploration licenses. If any license is found to have been granted through a corrupt process then it should be cancelled immediately.

c) Will you or your party create a public interest test to cancel mining and exploration leases if the leases are not in the public interest?

Yes. The Greens were the only party to oppose the removal of the public interest test in 2014. Its removal was strongly back by Labor, Liberal and the Nationals. The Greens have also introduced legislation to re-introduce this important test which would allow mining and exploration leases to be cancelled without compensation in the public interest. The Greens support all existing coal seam gas licenses and all coal exploration licenses being cancelled in the public interest and without compensation. The age of fossil fuels is rapidly coming to an end and the Greens vision is for a clean, renewable energy future.

d) Will you or your party ensure that the new process for triple bottom line assessment prior to coal exploration licences being granted will apply as part of the renewal process for existing licences?

Yes. The Greens do not support any new coal exploration licenses being granted or renewed, however our Responsible Mining legislation, which we have introduced to parliament, supports triple-bottom line assessments before any mining licenses are granted or renewed.

2. Will you/your party support and work to bring about legislation that excludes mining from areas where it is not appropriate, including:

a) Creating exclusions for coal and gas mining in productive farmland?

Yes. The Greens support a complete and permanent ban on unconventional gas extraction and we do not support any new coal mines. We have introduced the Responsible Mining (Protecting Land, Water and Communities) Bill 2014 which bans all mining within 2km of productive farmland. We have actively campaigned for this for many years, both in parliament and with communities. The Greens also have legislation before the federal parliament which would give landholders and communities the right to say no to coal and gas mining on their land.

b) Identifying and protecting from both coal and gas mining critical industry clusters across NSW?

Yes. The Greens have been calling for recognition of critical industry clusters (CIC) across NSW, and the development of a formal and independent process for applications and determinations about CIC status. We support an expansion of the definition of CICs to include groups of related industries, such as the irrigators in the Riverina, rather than having it just based on a single commodity. We also support CIC status being available to non-agricultural industries such as tourism. This is included in the Responsible Mining (Protecting Land, Water and Communities) Bill 2014.

c) Creating exclusions for coal and gas mining from GAB recharge aquifers, alluvial aquifers and drinking water catchments?

Yes. The Greens support 2km exclusion zones for all mining from drinking water catchments, GAB recharge aquifers and drinking water catchments. This is included in the Responsible Mining (Protecting Land, Water and Communities) Bill 2014.

d) Creating exclusions to protect cultural heritage and sensitive natural areas?

Yes. The Greens support a 2km exclusion zone for all mining from National Parks, State Conservation Areas, State Forests, areas zoned Tier 1 Biodiversity and important cultural heritage sites. This is included in the Responsible Mining (Protecting Land, Water and Communities) Bill 2014.

3. Will your party protect people from the impacts of mining, by:
a) Creating strict buffer zones which prevent mining within 2km of any household residence?

Yes. The Greens support a 5km exclusion zone for all mining from all household residences and zoned urban areas. This is included in the Responsible Mining (Protecting Land, Water and Communities) Bill 2014.

b) Introducing health impact assessment prior to any exploration and production projects?

Yes. The Greens intend to introduce legislation which mandates that cumulative public health impact assessments are conducted prior to any mining activities. The Greens will consult widely with community groups and other stakeholders and introduce this Bill within the first 3 months of the new parliamentary term.

c) Placing strict limits on particle pollution, introducing load-based licensing for heavy metals in coal mine water discharge, and banning flaring?

Yes. The Greens have called for a national standard for Pm2.5 particulates and we believe the current conditions around water discharge points are inadequate. The Greens recognise that flaring is a significant fire risk, especially in regional areas, and releases significant amounts of CO2. It is clear that alternative safety mechanisms need to be developed.

d) Require all coal wagons to be fully covered?

Yes. The Greens are the only party currently in parliament committed to immediately mandating all coal wagons be fully covered. The science is in, uncovered coal wagon harm people’s health and this is a priority for the Greens.

4. Will you/your party restore balance to coal and gas mining assessment and decisions so that:

a) The independent concurrence power of the Environment Protection Authority, NSW Office of Water, and Office of Environment and Heritage are restored?

Yes. Expertise in making assessment decision on different aspects of mining assessments lies with different departments and decisions should be made by those with the relevant expertise. Concentrating decision making power in the hands of a single government department can also lead to serious conflicts of interest.

b) There are proper bioregional assessments including thorough cumulative impact assessments prior to any mining approvals being given?

Yes. The Green’s Responsible Mining Framework ensures that cumulative impact assessments must be undertaken which examine impacts on climate change, agricultural land, critical industry clusters, water resources and ecological communities before any mining approvals are given.

c) Landholders, Traditional Owners and local councils have the right to say “no” to mining?

Yes. The Green’s Responsible Mining Framework gives landholders, Traditional Owners and local councils, through their local environment plan, the right to say no to mining. The Greens also have a bill currently before the federal parliament which would also give this right to landholders, Traditional Owners and local councils.

d) That legal force be given to protect areas where communities have declared themselves mining free after a systematic survey of households?

Yes. The Greens support the right for communities to legally declare themselves mining free and are committed to investigating the best legislative mechanism to give effect to this.

e) Community groups and individuals have third party merit appeal rights restored?

Yes. The Greens opposed the removal of third party merit appeal rights by the Coalition government. The Greens and the community were disgusted when the Coalition used their Ministerial powers to remove community appeal rights from some of the most controversial planning decisions in NSW. They used this power on projects including the highly contentious T4 coal terminal in Newcastle, the Maules Creek Coal mine that is destroying the Leard State Forest and the Cobbora coal mine in the State’s Central west.
The Liberal and National Parties’ actions have ensured that any approvals given for these environmentally and socially damaging projects cannot be subject to a merit appeal in the Land and Environment Court. By doing so they have prevented other communities following the example of the tiny township of Bulga in successfully overturning a damaging planning decision in the Land and Environment Court. Without merits appeal rights, communities only have recourse to judicial appeal within the court system which is a more costly and narrowly-based right of appeal which doesn’t allow you to challenge the merits of the decision.

5. Will you/your party rectify the failings of the Gas Plan and properly implement the Chief Scientist recommendations by:

a) Immediately establishing a Standing Expert Advisory Body, resource it properly and ask it to commence work on the list of specific research projects recommended by the Chief Scientist, to deliver on Recommendation 12?

As a first item of business when the NSW Parliament resumes, the Greens will move to have coal seam gas and all unconventional gas extraction completely and permanently banned in NSW, without any compensation available to companies, and a complete and permanent ban on new coal mines and exploration licenses. The Greens believe that the science on coal seam gas is in and we are not prepared to risk our land, water, climate or communities by supporting this toxic industry. We will of course support any moves to tighten the currently abysmal lack of regulation of the industry in NSW, but we believe that the establishment of a Standing Expert Advisory Body is a waste of taxpayers’ money as the industry should not go ahead.

b) Establishing exclusion zones for productive farmlands and water resources within EXISTING licences, in order to comply with Recommendation 5 to carefully restrict areas where CSG is allowed, prior to approval of any CSG projects?

Yes. Our answers to question 2 apply to existing licenses.

c) Immediately commencing the establishment of a comprehensive policy of insurance and an environmental rehabilitation fund, as required by Recommendation 9?

Yes. The Greens support the establishment of a cost recovery framework for all mining regulation and the establishment of a comprehensive policy of insurance and an environmental rehabilitation fund to ensure the legacy costs of mining are not borne by communities and taxpayers. We do not support this fund exonerating miners from fulfilling their legal obligations to meet the conditions of their license and we support the establishment of an Independent Mining and Petroleum Authority to regulate compliance with license conditions, including rehabilitation.

d) Implementing a moratorium on any gas drilling, including any drilling at the Gloucester or Narrabri projects, until all recommendations are fully implemented and applied, and all recommended research completed?

Please see our answer to 5 a). The Greens support a complete and permanent ban on all unconventional gas extraction, exploration and fracking.

6. Will you/your party develop your own economic analysis of, and alternatives to, the mining and CSG industries, by:

a) Immediately commissioning detailed modelling and quantitative prediction of the likely future demand for gas supply in NSW from a suitably qualified, independent university?

The Greens were instrumental in establishing the NSW Parliament Upper House inquiry into gas supply and pricing, with Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham the Deputy Chair of that inquiry. We support the work of Lock the Gate and Australia Institute in commissioning qualified and independent modelling of future gas demand. This modelling clearly showed that as price increases due to the move to export LNG in Queensland, the demand for gas in NSW will fall dramatically.

b) Develop and fund an expanded energy efficiency scheme that aims to markedly reduce gas use in NSW in key sectors?

Yes. The Greens support incentives to encourage energy efficiency and assist households and business to transition away from gas and onto renewable energy alternatives.

c) Require mandatory detailed cost-benefit analysis, which assesses costs to the wider community and economy, prior to approving any coal or gas projects?

Please see our answer to 5 a). The Greens support a complete and permanent ban on all unconventional gas extraction, exploration and fracking and any new coal projects. Any serious cost benefit analysis of the risks to land, water, health and climate will demonstrate that costs associated with any new coal and gas projects overwhelmingly outweigh any benefits.

d) Investigate the likely risks and cost of landscape restoration in the Hunter Valley, and ensure that the cost of this work will be met by mining companies?

The Greens are appalled that the Labor, Liberal and National parties support a massive expansion of coal mining in the Hunter Valley despite the clear risks to land and water and the fragmentation this will cause to existing land users, communities, industries such as tourism, and the environment. The development of any industry which will have such massive and irreversible impacts on a region should be thoroughly and independently investigated and the costs borne by the industry and not taxpayers.

7. Will your party deliver a basic level of fairness and equity for landholders and communities by:

a) Ruling out any additional crackdown on landholders who take action to oppose or protest against mining, given current penalties already involve many thousands of dollars in fines and seven year jail terms?

Yes. The right to peaceful process is a fundamental democratic right and should not be undermined by the government for the benefit of multinational mining companies.

b) Adopting in full the recommendations of the Walker Review into arbitration processes, including ensuring that landholders can have legal representation and their costs fully covered by the miner?

Yes. The Greens have worked closely with many landholders whose lives have been turned upside down by the current unfair and disempowering arbitration process for land access. We support the right of landholders to say no mining on their land and believe that if this was made legally enforceable it was would significantly empower landholders in arbitration and force mining companies to negotiate in good faith. We also support the right of landholders to legal representation and the costs of arbitration to be covered by the miner.

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