Category Archives: Media

Cancel or buyback gas exploration licences covering the Liverpool Plains

MEDIA RELEASE – 16 May 2018

NSW Greens energy and resources spokesman Jeremy Buckingham called on the government to cancel or buyback petroleum exploration licences (PELs) covering the Liverpool Plains after the resources minister Don Harwin admitted in Question Time that the PELs were connected to the Narrabri gas project proposed by Santos.

NSW Greens energy and resources spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said:

“The minister has let the cat out of the bag and confirmed what farmers have always fears – that the Narrabri gas project is the thin end of the wedge for coal seam gas across the region.

“It’s concerning that the Narrabri gas project may eventually expand to include coal seam gas wells on the Liverpool Plains.

“While Santos says it has ‘no plans’ to drill for gas in its exploration areas over the Liverpool Plains, the exploration areas are clearly connected and if the Narrabri project is approved they may become active exploration areas.

“The nature of unconventional gas is that it has to continually look for new gas wells to replace older wells. It moves across the landscape in a grid pattern.

“Farmers on the Liverpool Plains and elsewhere are right to be concerned that if the Narrabri gas project goes ahead, there area may be targeted for gas in the future.

“The government should give the farmers and community of the Liverpool Plains certainty and cancel or buyback these gas exploration areas.”

Video of the Question and Answer:


15 May 2018

Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM ( 16:23 ): My question is directed to the Minister for Resources, and Minister for Energy and Utilities. Six petroleum exploration licences cover part of the iconic Liverpool Plains. Given that at Santos’ recent annual general meeting its chief executive officer Kevin Gallagher told farmers that Santos has no plans to drill the wells in the Liverpool Plains but it cannot excise those parts of its licences that cover the Liverpool Plains and that it is something it will have to live with, will the Government provide certainty to the farmers of the Liverpool Plains by cancelling or buying back the parts of the petroleum exploration licences that cover the Liverpool Plains and permanently rule out gas extraction in this area?

The PRESIDENT: Order! I call the Hon. Rick Colless to order for the first time.

The Hon. DON HARWIN (Minister for Resources, Minister for Energy and Utilities, and Minister for the Arts) ( 16:24 ): I thank Mr Jeremy Buckingham for his question. As he indicates, those licences do have a connection with the Narrabri project that is currently being investigated by Santos. The Santos-Narrabri project and its associated environmental impact statement [EIS] were lodged on 1 February 2017 and exhibited between February and May last year. It is a matter of public record that the EIS attracted a large number of submissions from the community and Government—the highest number of submissions ever received for a publicly exhibited EIS.

On 13 April, just a few weeks ago, the Department of Planning and Environment received Santos’ formal response to submissions for the project. The department is currently reviewing the response to submissions, which will be thoroughly considered by the department on its merits under legislation and New South Wales Government policy guidelines alongside the EIS. The application is currently progressing through a system of processes under the State significant development provisions of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. I am sure Mr Jeremy Buckingham would be aware that the development assessment process is being handled by the Minister for Planning, but there are clear project benefits from the Narrabri—

Mr Jeremy Buckingham: Point of order: My point of order relates to relevance. I do not believe the Minister is being genuinely relevant to the question which related to petroleum exploration licences over the Liverpool Plains. The Narrabri gas project is a distinct project. I asked a question about petroleum exploration licences [PELs] and not about the Narrabri gas project. The Minister has talked only about the Narrabri gas project. I ask that he be drawn back to the substance of the question.

The PRESIDENT: I will look at the question. I thank Mr Jeremy Buckingham for his point of order. I believe that the Minister is being generally relevant. The Minister has the call.

The Hon. DON HARWIN: The project can deliver on the Government’s priorities for a secure, reliable and affordable gas supply for the residents of New South Wales within the current market and related gas supply framework. It can provide a mid-to long-term domestic gas supply in New South Wales. It can also offer certainty to wholesale and retail customers in the short term by providing insulation from price shocks. It will have the capacity to generate up to 50 per cent of the State’s gas supply at peak production, or 200 terajoules a day for more than 25 years. I visited the site of the project and some of the wells that have been dug. I spoke to people in the community who are concerned about the project and I met with a range of groups in the Narrabri community. There is extremely strong support for the Santos-Narrabri gas project in the town of Narrabri. The community understands what this project is worth to the town. It also understands the royalties and what that would mean for the State Government.

The PELs surround the Narrabri Gas Project. Nevertheless, the project and what is affected is dealt with by the EIS. While the project is in the development assessment phase, I am not proposing to take any action on the PELs until that process is concluded. I note that the PEL that covers the area south of Gunnedah— [Time expired.]

Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM ( 16:30 ): I ask a supplementary question. Will the Minister elucidate his answer about his comment that the petroleum exploration licences over the Liverpool Plains were “connected to the Narrabri Gas Project” by informing the House how they are connected to the Narrabri Gas Project?

Labor betrays Murray Darling Basin

MEDIA RELEASE – 8 May 2018

NSW Greens water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham today slammed the Labor Party for betraying the Murray Darling Basin by agreeing to support the government’s move to reduce environmental water by 605 gigalitres in  the Southern Basin and 70 gigalitres in the Northern Basin.

“Labor have capitulated to the National Party and big irrigators and have betrayed Australia and the health of the Murray Darling Basin,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Labor have gotten virtually nothing for selling out our rivers. Decent compliance and enforcement regimes should be a basic function of government, it should not be dependent on political deals that give more water to special interests.

“One wonders if the influence of former Labor MP Steve Whan, who is now chief executive of the National Irrigators Council, had anything to do with Labor’s backflip? The Australian people are sick to the gills of ex-politicians turning to lobbying and influencing their former colleagues.

“Just when the community thought Labor had a backbone after they supported the disallowance of 70 gigalitre reduction in the diversion limit for the Northern Basin, they’ve crumbled and sold out the entire Murray-Darling basin.

“The Murray Darling Basin needs real water returned to its rivers, lakes and wetlands. Multiple ‘water saving’ projects, without transparent business cases or definitive guaranteed water savings, are no replacement for actual water flowing down our rivers.

“This all looks like a big con, a smoke and mirrors trick to preserve the privilege of a few special interests. One day we will have a Royal Commission that will expose the rot in water management in Australia,” he said.

Disgraceful Nationals attack public meeting on Darling River

MEDIA RELEASE – 15 April 2018

The National Party has attacked a public meeting being held in Broken Hill this coming Monday evening, labelling concern about the Darling River and allegations of corruption in water management as “playing politics”. Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham slammed the Nationals saying the public was sick of their cover up the growing scandal around the management of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Nationals meme on Broken Hill meeting

“The Darling River is in a precarious state and serious allegations of corruption have been made and are being investigated by Independent Commission Against Corruption, yet the Nationals dismiss this meeting as “playing politics”. Its a disgrace that they would dismiss the significant public concern about what’s happening to the Darling River.  They are the one’s playing politics,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“We’ve got a river running dry, irrigators being charged with water theft, water bureaucrats and former ministers being investigated by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, and a $500 million pipeline being constructed that is deeply unpopular in Broken Hill but a smash hit with upstream cotton irrigators.

“These are all serious issues, and it is responsible for politicians such as Labor’s shadow water minister Chris Minns and myself to discuss these with community and take their concerns back to parliament.

“The National Party, let by water minister Niall Blair have done everything they can to downplay, stonewall and cover up allegations of water theft and corruption and mismanagement. That is playing politics!

“It’s the National Party’s cosy relationship with big cotton irrigators and their incompetence and mismanagement has led to the dire state of the Darling River and the construction of a very expensive pipeline.”

“The Greens are willing to work with any other party or group or person who is committed to reviving the Darling River.”

Broken Hill meeting meme

Big win for western Sydney with waste incinerator recommended for refusal

MEDIA RELEASE 11 April 2018

NSW Greens energy spokesman Jeremy Buckingham today said the recommendation by the Department of Planning that the proposed western Sydney waste to energy incinerator be refused was a huge win for the residents of western Sydney and the lungs of all the people in Sydney. He called on the government to back the Greens bill to ban such incinerators within 15km of residential areas to secure clean air into the future.

The Department of planning recommends to the Independent Planning Commission:

“Based on the advice of the EPA, NSW Health and the Independent Experts, the Department’s assessment of the application concludes the proposal is inconsistent with the NSW EPA’s Energy from Waste Policy Statement (2015), the air quality impacts and risk to human health is unknown, the development is not in the public interest and should be refused.

We have now referred our assessment report and recommendation to the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) for final determination. As part of this process, the IPC will hold a public meeting to give the community further opportunity to raise their concerns.”

“This is a fantastic win for the residents of western Sydney and the Greens, who have been fighting this toxic proposal for years,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The government should now back the Greens Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Waste Incinerator Facilities-Residential Exclusion Zones) Bill 2017 which will ban large waste to energy incinerators within 15 kilometres of residential zonings.

“I’m pleased to see the decision to hold a public meeting rather than a public hearing as part of the Independent Planning Commission’s assessment process, as a public hearing would have extinguished a merits review in the courts.

“Incinerating waste is not green energy. We should be seeking to reduce, reuse and recycle waste rather than create a large incinerator and permanent waste stream to feed its boilers,” he said.

Canavan ignorant of technology and climate. Coal should be phased out in a decade

MEDIA RELEASE – 28 March 2018

NSW Greens energy and resources spokesman Jeremy Buckingham today labelled federal resources minister Matt Canavan ignorant on disruptive technology and negligent on climate change as Canavan sets up a panel to push more fossil fuel mining in Australia.

“Pushing coal mining in an age of climate change and cheap, mature renewable energy is not only negligent, but is like advocating fax machines in the age of the internet,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The science very clearly says that 90% of coal must remain in the ground if we are to have even a 50% chance of keeping global warming under the two degree target that Australia signed up to at the Paris climate summit.

“The Greens want coal mining in NSW phased out within a decade. That is the only path to preventing runaway climate change.  That’s not hyperbole,  that is unfortunately the physical reality we face.

“Rather than ignorantly promoting polluting fossil fuels, Australian governments should be working on transition packages to rapidly transition our energy system to renewable energy and to transition mining dependent communities to other economic sectors.

“History is full of disruptive technologies rapidly replacing existing technologies. The motor vehicle and the horse and cart, film and digital cameras, sailing ships and steam ships, mobile phones, computers, and it is clear that renewable energy, which is rapidly decreasing in price and does not pollute the atmosphere is a disruptive technology that is spreading very fast.

“To tie the Australian economy to the extraction of fossil fuels and runaway climate change is a shockingly bad move from a government that is failing on climate change and lacks a sensible energy policy.”

NSW Government heading in wrong direction with IPART proposed reduction of solar tariff

MEDIA RELEASE – 20 March 2018

NSW Greens energy spokesman Jeremy Buckingham today said the NSW Government  was heading in the wrong direction on solar energy after the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) released an  issues paper on solar feed-in tariffs which flagged a reduction in the benchmark price paid for households generating solar electricity from 11 cents per kilowatt hour in 2017/18 to 8 cents in 2018/19. He called for the government to change the criteria to assess solar feed-in tariffs to recognise the multitude of benefits solar energy brings.

NSW Greens energy spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said:

“If the NSW Government are serious about supporting renewable energy then they should be saying wrong way, go back to IPART,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“NSW should be ensuring that electricity retailers pay a fair price for the solar electricity that is fed into the grid from roof top systems, which takes into account the avoided health and carbon costs solar brings by reducing the amount of fossil fuels that are burnt.

“This proposed reduction in the benchmark price paid for households generating solar electricity from 11 cents per kilowatt hour in 2017/18 to 8 cents in 2018/19 is a direct result of the NSW Governments failure to instruct IPART to assess the true value of solar power.

“Unless the NSW Government steps in then this decision will be a huge hit to the electricity bills of over 400,000 households and businesses that have installed solar panels in NSW and will act as a disincentive to further uptake of solar panels.

“Solar power is working to even out demand peaks and reduce electricity prices. Households and businesses should be rewarded for this service, not penalised for the benefit of big coal,” Mr Buckingham said.

NSW Greens Renewable Energy Spokeswoman Tamara Smith said:

“The Greens recognise that solar power leads to cleaner air, reduced carbon emissions and cheaper electricity.  The uptake of solar power should be encouraged and that is why the Greens have introduced a Bill into the NSW Parliament to ensure a minimum, fair price for solar.”

Tamara Smith has introduced the Electricity Supply Amendment (Fair Price for Solar) Bill 2018 into parliament on behalf of the Greens.  The Bill will replicate the Victorian criteria for establishing a mandatory minimum price which includes valuing the avoided health and carbon costs solar brings by reducing the amount of fossil fuels that are burnt, and by recognising the reduced spend of infrastructure.

Quote from the Issues Paper where IPART flags a reduction in the solar feed in tariff:

Our preliminary modelling is suggesting that in 2018-19, on average across the day the value of solar exports is around 8-9 cents per kilowatt hour for solar electricity. This is lower than our forecast of the value of solar electricity across the day for 2017-18. The main reason for this is that ASX baseload electricity contract prices are indicating that average prices for wholesale electricity next year will be lower in 2018-19, as substantial new generation capacity is expected to enter the market (mainly large-scale renewables). These suggest average wholesale prices will fall to around 8c/kWh, compared to around 11c/kWh when we published our Final Report last year.

Quote from the Issues Paper where IPART recognises the benefits of solar:

In addition, the increasing penetration of solar electricity in NSW over time has meant that less electricity needs to be produced by power stations in the middle of the day and into the afternoon. Over the years this has contributed to a lower number of price spikes for wholesale electricity over the whole afternoon period when solar is exporting to the grid.

Therefore on average, the difference between the price of wholesale electricity when solar is exporting, compared to the price of wholesale electricity at all other times is reducing.”

Water minister bows to Greens pressure and places embargo on water extraction

MEDIA RELEASE – 8 March 2018

NSW Greens Water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham has today congratulated the Minister for Regional Water, Niall Blair, for placing an embargo on water extraction on the Barwon Darling system, to ensure expected flows from significant recent rainfall in Queensland will at least reach the Bourke weir pool, but raised concerns that too much water will be extracted in Queensland to the detriment of the Darling River.

“I have been pressuring the minister in parliament today to impose an embargo on the Barwon Darling today to ensure water from recent rain events reaches the Darling River, and I’m pleased to see the Minister agree to an embargo late this afternoon” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“It’s very concerning that the Minister does not expect water to reach further downstream than the Bourke weir.  How much of this rain event will be pumped into the irrigation dams around St George and at Cubbie Station in Queensland?

Right now the Darling River is in crisis.  We have a blue green algae red alert on the lower Darling River between Pooncarie and Burtundy that could become life threatening and the Darling is bone dry above Wilcannia. Without significant flows, the Menindee Lakes system and the lower Darling will be without water by the end of the year for the second time in three years.”

“It’s pleasing to see that community pressure and concern for the health of the Darling River has seen the Nationals put the interests of the community and the river ahead of their mates and donors from the irrigation industry for once,” said Mr Buckingham.

Below is the text of the motion moved by Jeremy Buckingham in parliament this morning.

The Minister announced the embargo in response to a question from Mr Buckingham in Parliament in the afternoon.


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

  1. That this House notes that:


  • There has been significant recent rainfall in the northern catchment of the Murray-Darling Basin;
  • There is a very real possibility that none of the flows from this rainfall will make it down to the lower Darling River, especially as under current laws irrigators can capture up to 3 years supply of water from one flow to store in their dams;
  • There is currently a blue green algae red alert on the lower Darling River between Pooncarie and Burtundy that could become life threatening;
  • Without significant flows making it down the Darling River, Broken Hill, the Menindee Lakes system and the lower Darling will be without water by the end of the year for the second time in three years; and,
  • The Darling is currently completely dry north of Wilcannia.


  1. That this House calls on the Minister for Regional Water, Niall Blair, to exercise his powers under the Barwon-Darling Unregulated and Alluvial Sources Water Sharing Plan  2012 to protect the expected flows, including through urgently implementing an embargo on extractions, to ensure that all downstream water users have healthy stock and domestic supplies.
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