Category Archives: Media

Government shuts down debate on water theft scandal

MEDIA RELEASE – 13 September 2017

NSW Greens water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham today criticised the Berejiklian Government for voting against a Matter of Public Importance debate on the growing water theft scandal, after the Matthews Inquiry released a scathing interim report that raises more questions than it answers.

The Greens moved to have a Matter of Public Importance debate on the Matthews Inquiry interim report, but the government used their numbers in the Upper House to defeat the motion 20 – 16.

“It’s increasingly obvious that Water Minister Niall Blair is engaged in a cover up of this water scandal.  His government has failed to initiate an independent judicial inquiry, they have blocked parliamentary motions calling for documents to be presented, and now they’ve voted down the parliament debating the issue as a ‘Matter of Public Importance’,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The people of NSW have lost confidence in the ability of the National Party to administer the water portfolio for the public good, rather than in favour of their irrigator mates and political donors.

“The Matthews Inquiry interim report raises more questions than it answers.

“Why did the Secretary of the Department prevent Mr Matthews from reporting on the conduct of other DPI Water Staff?  And what other ‘separate process’ is the Secretary and minister considering to investigate these other staff?

“Who is investigating former minister Kevin Humphries?  Is it ICAC?  Is it Mr Matthews?  Is anyone?

“Why did the Commonwealth pull its funding for compliance staff at DPI Water?

“What role did the restructure of water by this government have in undermining compliance and enforcement?

“Why have two audits into NSW Water compliance by the NSW Ombudsman in 2009 and 2014 been kept secret, despite attempts by the parliament and under Freedom of Information to have the audits released?”

Nationals should be stripped of water portfolio after damning report

MEDIA RELEASE – 11 September 2017

 

The NSW Greens today called on the National Party to be stripped of the water portfolio after the interim report by Ken Matthews sparked by a 4 Corners investigation found “water related compliance and enforcement arrangements in NSW have been ineffectual and require significant and urgent improvement” and revealed that ICAC was investigating allegations of corruption; Kevin Humphries may have told irrigators to pump during an embargo; and that a ‘systemic fix’ is required, including a new independent ‘Natural Resource Access Regulator’.

NSW Greens water spokesperson, Jeremy Buckingham said:

“The National Party should be permanently stripped from holding the water portfolio.  We cannot have the fox in charge of the henhouse, especially when National Party donors are getting favourable treatment by ministers, MPs and senior public servants.

“The current government made a massive mistake in putting the Department of Primary Industries in charge of water.  There is an inherent conflict of interest of making water allocations subservient to the interests of the agricultural industry.

“The role of Troy Grant’s office and former minister Kevin Humphries is extremely concerning and highlights the role of the National Party in mismanaging water resources and potentially corruption the administration of the Water Act.

“The Greens welcome the recommendation to set up an independent Natural Resources Access Regulator, and believe the water portfolio should be held by the environment minister.

“The government should move swiftly to implement all the recommendations made in this report.  Mr Matthews is correct in saying that the irrigation industry’s social licence is at stake and that restoring public confidence will require more than incremental change.

“The last three National Party ministers have all worked to undermine the Murray Darling Basin Plan and to implement legislative and regulatory changes in favour of big irrigators.  This is having real impacts on the health of our rivers and has totally undermined public confidence in water management in NSW.

“I am concerned that Water NSW failed to give the Matthews Inquiry access to supporting documentation until the 24 August, with further deliver on the 29 August – possibly contributing the delay of this interim report until after Budget Estimates hearings where Minister Blair continually dodged questions citing the impending interim report.

“The Greens support recommendations to require meters on all pumps, publishing meter readings in real time, remote sensing of crops and water holdings, and strong enforcement of the law.”

Luddite PM wrong to try to delay Liddell power station closure

MEDIA RELEASE – 5 September 2017

Greens NSW energy spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today labelled the Prime Minister a Luddite and wrong after Mr Turnbull revealed that the federal government was attempting to persuade AGL to keep the Liddell coal-fired power station in the Hunter Valley open for another five years after its scheduled closure date of 2022.

“Liddell power station is one of the oldest in the country. It’s age means it does not provide the reliable electricity the Prime Minister says he wants to achieve. This is about ideology and internal Liberal Party politics, not a coherent energy policy,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Today’s AEMO Report makes it clear that the answer to our energy problems is large scale investment in renewable energy with storage. Only a luddite could read that report and want to prop up an unreliable 50 year old coal-fired power station. The NSW Government should make it clear to the Prime Minister that this is not a sensible strategy.

“It is tragic that the lack of direction and coherent policy from the federal government is causing power prices to rise and investment uncertainty in Australia at the very moment when technological advancement and global climate policies are driving a clean energy revolution.

“AGL and the other major energy companies have made it very clear they do not want to invest in coal-fired power and want a stable policy environment that allows them to make the transformation to renewable energy and storage. AGL has been building its public reputation on the impending closure of Liddell power station.

“This push to keep an ancient coal-fired power station going demonstrates that the Liberal Party is far behind the experts, the regulators, the energy companies, and public opinion when it comes to energy policy.

“The science of climate change means we must rapidly phase out coal from our energy mix. In Australia, this means closing an average of one coal-fired power station every year.

“Australian governments should be working together to implement a strategy for an orderly transition from coal, but instead we have a weak Prime Minister trying to demonstrate his fealty to the Luddites and climate science deniers in his own party, and the fossil fuel lobby.”

Ethanol mandate a $143 million hit to NSW motorists

MEDIA RELEASE – 31 August 2017

The Greens NSW Energy spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham has called on the NSW Government and the Labor Party to abandon their support for the NSW ethanol mandate after analysis by the Greens revealed it has cost motorists $143 million in the past year.  The analysis has also shown that monopoly ethanol supplier Manildra, who have donated over $2 million to Labor, Liberal and the Nationals since 2010, have made over $4.4 million in profit in the past year due to the mandate.

At a time of skyrocketing energy costs, motorists are being forced to pay more for petrol in NSW for no environmental benefit simply to line the pockets of a major political donor,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

Because of the ethanol mandate, many petrol stations no longer stock regular unleaded petrol and so motorists are being forced to pay hundreds of dollars extra every year if they don’t wish to use E10.”

Under the Biofuels Act 2007, 60% of all unleaded petrol sold in NSW must contain 10% ethanol.  Recent amendments to the Act, which were supported by all parties except the Greens, have forced fuel retailers to sell E10, even though most consumers do not wish to buy the product.  This has meant that many retailers no longer stock the cheaper regular unleaded petrol and motorists are being forced to purchase more expensive premium unleaded fuel.

Analysis by the Greens, based on methodology used by the ACCC, has calculated the difference between what motorists in Sydney spent on the various types of petrol in 2016–17 and what they would have spent if they had bought the same proportions of these types of petrol as in the rest of Australia excluding NSW, where there is no have an ethanol mandate. The analysis found that Sydney motorists may have spent around $143 million more on petrol as result of the ethanol mandate.

The analysis has also found that over 1 billion extra litres of e10 were sold in NSW in 2016-17 compared to other states, which has netted monopoly ethanol supplier Manildra approximately $4.49 million extra  profit.

E10 is not a clean, green energy source. If the Government are serious about reducing emissions from our transport sector then they should be introducing incentives for electric vehicles, not forcing consumers to buy E10.

The real driver of this ethanol mandate is the over $2 million that has been donated by Manildra, who sell at least 96% of ethanol in NSW, to the Liberal, National and Labor Parties in recent years.

While motorists suffer, Manildra will be very happy with the influence their donations have bought as the mandate has gifted over $4.4 million in profits to them in the past year alone.

“The Greens will be introducing a bill to repeal the ethanol mandate as soon as parliament resumes to test whether the old parties are prepared to finally put the interests of motorists ahead of a major political donor,” Mr Buckingham concluded.

Mr Buckingham will introduce the Biofuels Repeal Bill 2017 to parliament on 12 September 2017.

Since 2010 the Manildra Group has donated:

  • Labor (federal) – $536,000
  • Liberal (federal) – $505,000,
  • Nationals (federal) – $683,000
  • Labor (NSW) – $123,000
  • Liberal (NSW) – $77,000
  • Nationals (NSW) – $76,000

The detailed calculations which the figures are based upon are available upon request.

Independent Scientific report confirms Narrabri CSG project will be an environmental disaster

MEDIA RELEASE – 29 August 2017

The Greens NSW Resources and Energy spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said that the NSW Premier should intervene to cancel Santos’ Narrabri coal seam gas project following the release today of the Commonwealth Independent Expert Scientific Committee’s scathing report on the project’s impacts on water resources.

“This report once again confirms that if Santos goes ahead with their coal seam gas project it will be an environmental disaster and highlights the inherent problem of waste products created by unconventional gas extraction.

“The creation of vast amounts of toxic waste and salts has always been the unresolvable problem with coal seam gas and this scathing report does nothing to dispel those issues.

“The Independent Expert Scientific Committee has sounded the alarm on the potential for “long-term legacy issues” caused by the creation of up to 115 tonnes of salt per day.

“Santos’ proposal to simply dump the salt they create in landfill has also been exposed as a farce, with “limited capacity for additional waste” in existing licensed facilities. Maybe their plan is simply to drive the waste across the border to Queensland and dump it there?

“It is also alarming that the IESC have “low confidence in the water balance modelling” Santos has used, and have flagged “potential under-estimation by Santos of the risk to groundwater-dependent ecosystems”.

“Coal seam gas is unwanted and unnecessary and this report confirms the fears of farmers and the wider community that it is also unsafe.

“It is time for the Liberals and Nationals to finally show some leadership and cancel this project once and for all.

“NSW should follow Victoria’s lead and ban unconventional gas altogether and unreservedly embrace renewable energy,” Mr Buckingham concluded.

Liberals vote to shut down debate on Greens Bill to stop western Sydney incinerator

MEDIA RELEASE: 8 August 2017

The Greens NSW Energy spokesman Jeremy Buckingham has today called on member for Mulgoa Tanya Davies and Member for Penrith Stuart Ayres to explain why the Liberal Party voted in the NSW Upper House to prevent debate on a Greens Bill that would prohibit locating large polluting ‘waste to energy’ incinerators within 15 kilometres of urban zoning. The Bill would effectively kill off a proposal from Mr Ian Malouf’s Dial-A-Dump company to build the world’s largest waste incinerator on his land in Eastern Creek, only 800 metres from homes and a school in Minchinbury.

Mr Buckingham sought to bring the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Waste Incinerator Facilities – Residential Exclusion Zones) Bill 2017 on for debate in parliament today but this was blocked by the Government, the Shooters and Fishers Party and the Christian Democrats with 13 votes for and 18 votes against. Labor joined with the Greens to support debate on the Bill.

“Tanya Davies and Stuart Ayres need to explain to the people of western Sydney why the Liberal Party have refused to allow even 15 minutes of parliamentary time so that debate could begin on this important issue,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“This is a slap in the face to all those people who don’t want the world’s largest toxic incinerator in their backyard.

“Do they not think this is an important issue worth debating in parliament?”

“They can run, but they can’t hide from the people of western Sydney and if they do not stop the incinerator then Tanya Davies and Stuart Ayres can expect to get thrown out at the next election.

“I pleased that the Labor Party supported debate on this important piece of legislation and am hopeful that they will support the legislation when it is finally voted upon.

“It is the government’s role to step in and protect the lungs of Western Sydney. Whether a giant waste incinerator is built only a kilometre from homes and schools is a decision for the government and parliament, and cannot just be left to planning bureaucrats.

“I will not give up and the Greens will not stop standing up for the people of western Sydney who are opposed to this dirty garbage incinerator,” Mr Buckingham said.

Contact: Jack Gough – 9230 2202 or 0427 713 101

Water theft should not be retrospectively legalised 

MEDIA RELEASE – 3 August 2017

NSW Greens water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham slammed the Berejiklian government for moving to retrospectively legalising flood works that have been illegally built between 1994 and 2017.

Struggling Water Minister Niall Blair gazetted the Floodplain Management Plan for the Barwon-Darling Valley Floodplain 2017 on the 29 June 2017.  This plan contains a new Section 39 which gives the minister the power to approve flood works that have been built illegally even if they do not comply with the normal requirements (details below).

“Many of these areas are so flat that even a 10-20cm bank can divert a huge amount of water into an irrigation dam and away from natural waterways.  It’s a massive gift of water to the big irrigators. If we want to recover the water in the future then taxpayer will have to hand over huge amounts of compensation for what were illegal constructions,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.
“It’s complete shonky that National Party water minister would seek to retrospectively legalise these illegal works and water thefts.  This is disgraceful example of the National Party giving away free water to their big irrigator mates.
“Our rivers are running dry and downstream communities are facing ruin because of the mismanagement by the National Party.

“Premier Berejiklian should strip the water portfolio off the National Party, put compliance with the Water Management Act under the supervision of the environment minister, and facilitate a special commission of inquiry into this widening water theft scandal.

“These illegal channels and dams divert a vast volume of flood water away from natural waterways and into irrigation storages, making a few greedy irrigators rich at the expense of Australian rivers.”

Former Water Minister Kevin Humphries pushed through some major changes to the Water Management Act in 2014, which allowed them to create these flood plain harvesting licences. It essentially means any illegal flood harvesting works built since 1994 can be made legal retrospectively.  This has now been enacted by current Water Minister Niall Blair.

http://www.legislation.nsw.gov.au/regulations/2017-328.pdf

 

Section 39 of the recently gazetted Floodplain Management Plan for the Barwon-Darling Valley Floodplain 2017 allows illegal floodplain works which were made before the creation of the plan to be made legal by the Minister even if they don’t meet the environmental requirements under Section 38.  It also allows them to be amended without complying with the requirements of Section 38:

 

“A flood work approval in Barwon-Darling Management Zone A may be granted for a flood work that does not comply with the requirements of clause 38, provided the flood work meets all of the following criteria:

(a) the flood work was constructed as at the date of commencement of this Plan,

(b) the flood work is, in the Minister’s opinion, for:

(i) an access road, or

(ii) a supply channel, or

(iii) a stock refuge, or

(iv) an infrastructure protection work,

(c) as at the date of application, the flood work is not the subject of:

(i) an undetermined controlled work application under Part 8 of the Water Act 1912, or

(ii) a previously refused Part 8 application of the Water Act 1912, or

(iii) an undetermined flood work application under the Act, or

(iv) a previously refused flood work application under the Act.

(2) An amendment of a flood work approval in Barwon-Darling Management Zone A may be granted for a flood work that does not comply with the requirements of clause 38, provided the flood work meets all of the following criteria:

(a) the flood work was constructed as at the date of commencement of this Plan,

(b) the proposed modification to the flood work will, in the Minister’s opinion, reduce the impact of the work on flow patterns (distribution of flows, drainage, depth or velocity) in Barwon-Darling Management Zone A.

(3) An application under this clause must be assessed against the assessment criteria outlined in clause 40 of this Plan.

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