Category Archives: Media

King Coal tumbles from its throne as Rocky Hill mine rejected by PAC

MEDIA RELEASE 15 December 2017

The NSW Greens welcomed today’s Planning Assessment Commission decision to refuse the proposed Rocky Hill coal mine near Gloucester, saying the decision demonstrated that coal was no longer king in NSW, and they called on the government to cancel the exploration licence to give the community certainty.

NSW Greens energy and resources spokesman, Jeremy Buckingham said:

“The rejection of the Rocky Hill coal mine demonstrates that coal is no longer king in NSW. The planning system is no longer willing to prioritise mining coal over community well-being or the environment.

“The Greens call on the Berejiklian Government to cancel the exploration licence so that the community of Gloucester, who have fought off coal seam gas and now this coal mine, can have certainty that their beautiful valley will be protected.

“While this decision is very welcome, what NSW needs is a transition plan to rapidly phase out coal mining to combat climate change, while providing assistance to workers and communities affected by this structural adjustment.

“Both Labor and the Coalition need to seriously consider a moratorium on new coal mines and developing a strategy to manage the phase out of coal.”

Photo of Greens MPs Jeremy Buckingham and Richard Di Natale with Gloucester Community: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByxFWzVKcs8Ia2hjU3lnQzJFZHM/view?usp=sharing

Photo of Greens MPs Jeremy Buckingham and Richard Di Natale with No Rocky Hill sign: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByxFWzVKcs8IVGFyR3NOVWF3eEk/view?usp=sharing

Greens MPs arrested at blockade of Adani mine site in outback Queensland

This morning NSW Greens MPs Jeremy Buckingham and Dawn Walker were arrested by Queensland police after taking part in a blockade of the Adani Carmichael coal mine rail construction site at Belyando, 270km west of Bowen.  The MPs were arrested at 6:35am along with a dozen other climate activists and charged with trespass unlawfully on a place of business.

 

Photos and video footage of the arrests are available for download here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1YJBm5K1odoQfIKZYaaOYa7418XGEHBXj

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham said:

“I’m proud to stand with activists in defence of climate and country, and represent all those people around Australia and internationally who want to stop the Adani coal project,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham 

 

“Although we are MPs from NSW this is an issue of national and international significance. Adani represents a line in the sand for all those concerned about climate change who do not want to see a new coal precinct opened up in Australia. 

 

Green MPs have a proud tradition of participating in peaceful, non-violent direct action and we stand with all those opposed to this crazy coal mine,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham

 

Greens MP Dawn Walker said: 

“It was a very important day for me, stopping work on the Adani mine and being arrested with climate activists who understand the importance of preventing this destructive project from going ahead,” said Greens MP Dawn Walker.

 

“I was proud to stand with traditional owners who have said ‘no means no’ to Adani, and made it clear they will not be surrendering their land and water to this coal corporation.   

 

“Although this mine is miles from anywhere, the eyes of all Australia are on it. We have travelled days to get here but believe many more will follow.

 

I’m appalled by the way this project is tearing indigenous communities apart and offering a sub standard agreement to traditional owners for their land, with little economic opportunity. On every level Adani’s controversial mine does not stack up.”

 

Contact:

 

Jeremy Buckingham: Max Phillips – 0419 444 916 or 9230 2202

 

Dawn Walker: Graeme Williams  – 0402 438 833

 

Cascading reports ring alarm over failing Murray Darling Basin Plan

MEDIA RELEASE – 30 November 2017

Four separate reports in the last few days have all rung the alarm bell over the progress of the Murray Darling Basin Plan, underlining the need for a federal Royal Commission into the administration of the Murray Darling Basin.

Since last Saturday the following reports have released:

NSW Greens water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said:

“We have had cascading reports concluding the Murray Darling Basin Plan is failing and billions of taxpayer’s dollars are being wasted on projects that are not restoring our rivers and wetlands.

“These report indicate that the Basin Plan is on the brink of failure because of recalcitrant states, a tame Murray Darling Basin Authority, a dysfunctional water market that is being rorted, a lack of compliance, and National Party water ministers acting to destroy it.

“Water is a very complex issue where government decisions can result in windfall profits, so it is ripe for corruption and fraud.  Revelations over the last few months are ringing the alarm bells that compliance is rotten and the Murray Darling Basin Plan is failing.

“The Murray Darling Basin Authority is captive and tame, when it should be a fierce proponent for restoring healthy rivers and taking on parochial interests such as state governments and the irrigation industry.

“Everywhere we look, the National Party, in cahoots with big irrigators and tame bureaucrats, are conniving and maneuvering to keep irrigators canals full, and stop water being returned to our rivers and wetlands.”

“The states are cooking up schemes and projects that reduce the amount of water being returned the rivers, or putting in place regulatory barriers to prevent proper environmental flows.  It looks like they are actively working to retard the progress of the Basin Plan.

“The Greens are calling for a federal Royal Commission into the administration of the Murray Darling Basin.”

Greens move bill to ban western Sydney incinerator

MEDIA RELEASE – 27 November 2017

The NSW Greens have moved a bill in NSW Parliament that would ban waste to energy incinerators within 15 kilometres of homes and schools and are hoping for support from both the government and the Labor party.

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Waste Incinerator Facilities-Residential Exclusion Zones) Bill 2017 would effectively stop Mr Ian Malouf’s Next Generation waste to energy incinerator being built or any similar facility.

Greens Energy spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham gave the Second Reading speech last Thursday.

“Locating such a significant source of pollution in the heart of western Sydney should not be a decision left up to planning technocrats.  It is a political decision that should be made by the parliament,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“I have put this legislation into the parliament to put words into actions.  MPs from all parties have expressed their opposition to the incinerator, now it’s time to use the power of the parliament to act.

“The bill will progress when parliament resumes in February next year.  The Labor Party has expressed support and the Premier has indicated she will consider such legislation.

“The Greens stand with local residents, the EPA and NSW Health in opposition to this toxic incinerator.”

HANSARD OF THE SECOND READING SPEECH – 23 November 2017

Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: I am pleased to introduce this bill on behalf of the people of Minchinbury, Erskine Park, St Clair, Colyton, Mt Druitt, Penrith, Horsley Park and Western Sydney who oppose a big, dirty, polluting garbage incinerator being forced upon their community. Let me be clear, the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Waste Incinerator Facilities-Residential Exclusion Zones) Bill 2017 stops the Eastern Creek garbage incinerator. This is a bill that puts people’s health before profit. This is about the elected representatives of the people of New South Wales taking responsibility and not subjecting the people of Western Sydney to the vagaries of the planning system. Whether or not this incinerator goes ahead is a political decision. We can stop this incinerator today. This is a decision for politicians and this bill stops the incinerator in its tracks.

The Government can blather on about an independent, arm’s-length planning system, but we know that the reality is that the planning system in this State has no red lights and that with enough money, greased hands and so-called “independent reports”, any development will be approved, regardless of the impact on communities or the environment. I note that the proponent of this development is busy in Western Sydney bribing 1,000 residents with new solar panels if they go quietly into the night and accept the toxic waste incinerator in their back yard. I say to Ian Malouf that the people of Western Sydney will not take his bribe. They will not have this toxic waste incinerator in their backyard. The Greens stand with all people in Western Sydney who think this is a dirty, toxic industry. It is a dirty, toxic move to try to bribe those people with baubles, mirrors and beads.

It is important that we build a consensus around this issue. The Greens welcome the fact that Federal Labor is on board, but Labor is not the decision-maker; this Parliament is. This bill will stop the incinerator by preventing any waste incinerator facilities from being built within 15 kilometres of residential zones. The bill does not change the existing provisions for waste to energy projects that are currently permissible under the current NSW Energy from Waste Policy Statement. The bill simply bans incinerators such as the Next Generation proposal, which intends to burn plastic and industrial waste within 800 metres of homes and schools. Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of toxic industrial and commercial plastic waste will be burned in the heart of this great city. The Greens think this is absolute madness. If members of this place enjoy clean air, being free of asthma or living in the Sydney Basin, then they should take note, support this bill and stop this development.

I am sure members have seen the stories run by Mr Chris O’Keefe at Channel 9 about this crazy proposal and the impacts it will have on people’s health and the environment. I thank Channel 9 for standing up for the people of Western Sydney. I thank Mr Chris O’Keefe for paying attention and shining a light on a development that was trying to sneak into an industrial area of Eastern Creek. Without the Fourth Estate paying attention and giving this issue the focus and attention it needs, this development may well have snuck through without the scrutiny that it needs.

The planning system is broken. Not all people were informed. It is only because of the work of the Fourth Estate and The Greens on the ground, such as the Blacktown Greens and other environment groups, observing, paying attention, doorknocking and printing stickers that people know that they are about to be shafted by this Government, Mr Ian Malouf and the Next Generation proposal in the form of a massive, toxic waste incinerator in their back yard. We all know that despite the opposition of the Environment Protection Authority [EPA], NSW Health and the local council, this development is rolling through the planning system. Now is the time to call for its end. Members should support this bill and stop it in its tracks. It is the job of the Legislative Council to do this. I hope that honourable members will listen to the words of the people of Western Sydney. We have had hundreds of submissions from concerned residents to the ongoing parliamentary inquiry. Mrs Kerry Loveday said:

I don’t think that it is fair to the residents of Minchinbury, St Clair and Erskine Park to suffer increased pollution, increased traffic on our already overstretched local roads and financial loss on our homes for the benefit of TNG. Western Sydney should not be treated as a dumping ground and its environment and the health of its residents should be of the utmost importance to all of our Government representatives and should definitely outweigh any financial considerations.

The Greens support Mrs Kerry Loveday. Mrs Kerry Tosswill said:

I have grave concerns regarding the location and impact on the environment and residents living in the surrounding areas. I am also concerned about the lack of infrastructure to support such a development, in particular the local hospitals, which will see increased presentations and admissions with respiratory related conditions.

Mr Derek Ridgley said:

I object to this incinerator being built in my area. I believe it is not in the best interest for the health of the community. I do not see why this type of structure has to be built in residential areas.”

Mrs Leanne Stoddart said:

Western Sydney is already inundated with the smell of rotting garbage every night. We are not interested in adding to the already polluted air of this area with the world’s largest incinerator. You have already completely ignored the fact that we don’t want an airport in our backyard, polluting the sky and our drinking water. If you do put this incinerator within kilometres of primary schools, parks and homes, I can guarantee you will not be in government next election.

If the member for Mulgoa and the member for Penrith want to keep their jobs, they must make sure that this Government supports the bill. Mrs Carmel Bartkiewicz said:

My husband and I have lived in the area for over 50 years and we are disappointed, yet again, that the Government is determined to dump all its problems in Western Sydney. Do the decent thing and stop putting more pollution in an area that is a catch basin for pollution already. Profit comes before people’s health. It is time to change. People before greed”.

Margaret Flynn said:

With thousands of trucks delivering over a million tonnes of waste to be burnt each year, there is no certainty about what chemicals and particles will come out of the exhaust stacks, which is why the EPA and NSW Health object to this proposal.”

Mathew Cini said:

I’m writing to you cause my family and I strongly objects to the go ahead to the incinerator, which is proposed to be built in Eastern Creek. My partner and I have purchased a house in nearby Minchinbury, which was hard enough in the world we live in today. We have the intention on raising a family here but if the incinerator gets built, we will be relocating, which will be a massive disappointment. The incinerator will be very visible from our property, let alone the noise and pollution that will be in the air around our family home. I really hope this rubbish idea gets rejected.

I hope that honourable members in this place are listening to these submissions. Mr Alpeshkumar Patel said:

Because of this incinerator, our kids and local people will get sicker and our water and air quality will get more polluted. Please don’t plant this incinerator next to our houses.

Mr Peter Robertson asked:

Why is there so much secrecy about this issue? My Federal member sent a letter regarding this Government inquiry five days before submissions closed. My State member was very quiet on the subject until she came to a community meeting where she was given a very angry reception, and at that same meeting the Federal Member did not utter a single word regarding which side of the fence he and his party stands. “Energy from waste” is such a crock, especially to the residents around this proposed incinerator site at Eastern Creek. No one cares that these rubbish burners are used throughout Europe, Japan and USA, and they have been using them for years. The thing is, they are not building them anymore. What will happen to the toxic fly ash? Where are they going to put it? This proposal should not be allowed to go ahead for the sake of our children. What sort of world are we going to leave them? It’s their future that has to be protected.

The Greens stand with the community in opposing this toxic, toxic industry. Mr Michael Donohue said:

I am strongly opposed to increasing the pollution in an already over-polluted area and also the massive increase in road traffic which will ensue. The people of Western Sydney already have to deal with horrendous traffic, pollution and the increasing odours emanating from the existing site at Eastern Creek.

Mrs Lisa McKinnon said:

I have lived in Erskine Park for nearly 8 years and we love the area, I have two very young children, and had hoped to keep them in the area for all of their schooling. However if this incinerator goes ahead we will have to make a decision on how we can move from the area for the following reasons:

  1. I have asthma and their is a high possibility that my children have inherited this from me, so to stay in an area where the air quality will be diminished is a health risk to us.
  2. You may say that its not that close to residential area but our house when you are in the top level (2 storey home) you can see the construction site, so we are in a directly affected area.

I note that I am getting the wrap-up, so I will conclude by saying that The Greens will continue this fight until this incinerator is stopped. We will continue to fight for the people of Western Sydney because the Next Generation project is an absolute disaster. The air quality of Western Sydney and the health of the people out there will be affected. Millions of people will be breathing toxic, carcinogenic air—those are the proponent’s own words; it is the opinion of NSW Health—for a generation if this proposal goes ahead.

We urge the Government to support the bill. We call on the Opposition to support the bill and put the interests of Western Sydney first—put the interests of hundreds of thousands of residents before the interests of Mr Ian Malouf. Support this bill, which will ban these types of facilities in residential areas and create certainty for members of that community. This is impacting their housing prices and their wellbeing. It will impact on the health of the people and destroy the amenity of an area that is already over-developed. This is an opportunity for the Government to support the bill and give the people of Western Sydney certainty. Members should back The Greens’ bill and send this incinerator packing. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.

The PRESIDENT: I will now leave the chair and cause the bells to be rung at 2.30 p.m.

Cover Up King Blair fails transparency test

MEDIA RELEASE – 22 November 2017

The NSW Greens have accused water minister Niall Blair of covering up maladministration of water compliance and enforcement after the government used its numbers in parliament to block 18 votes to 15 votes, the public release of three separate ombudsman reports.

In his latest interim report the NSW Ombudsman says:

 “The concerns raised in earlier investigations continue to be a strong theme in the current investigation, and are summarised in this progress report.”

The Ombudsman has produced three separate reports on water compliance and enforcement in 2009, 2012 and 2013.  None of these reports have been made public by the minister.

NSW Greens water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said:

“This was a test to see whether water minister Niall Blair was fair dinkum about transparency, and he has flunked it badly.

“The Ombudsman made it clear in his interim report that many of the issues now causing scandal were raised in a series of reports dating back as far as 2009.

“It is important to see what information and recommendations the Ombudsman made in previous reports, and whether successive NSW Government took the conclusions of these report seriously or enacted the recommendations.

“Next time water minister Niall Blair says he is not acting to cover up this scandal, remember that he voted to block the public from reading what was in these three ombudsman reports.

“The National Party should be stripped of the water portfolio and there should be a Royal Commission in to the administration of the Murray Darling Basin.”

A test to see whether water minister Niall Blair is fair dinkum or covering up?

MEDIA RELEASE – 21 November 2017

NSW water minister Niall Blair faces a test to see whether he is fair dinkum about cleaning up corruption and mismanagement in water or whether he is covering up.

The NSW Ombudsman has produced three separate reports on water compliance and enforcement in 2009, 2012 and 2013.  None of these reports have been made public by the minister.

The Greens will move tomorrow for these reports to be tabled in parliament through the powerful Standing Order 52, which, if passed, will require the documents to be produced within 14 days.

NSW Greens water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said:

“For too long minister Blair has been dodging and weaving pretending he is about transparency on the water scandal, but moving to cover things up.

“Here is a simple test for the minister:  will he support the public release of these three past ombudsman reports, or will he try to use the numbers in the parliament block their release and keep the public in the dark?

“Last week the NSW Ombudsman took the unusual step of directly tabling a damning interim report on water compliance and enforcement which noted that similar issues had been reported in three previous reports, but little had been done to deal with the issues for a decade.

“If the government blocks the release of these three reports, then you can be certain they are not interested in transparency, they are only interested in covering up.”

The following motion will be moved by formal business in the Legislative Council on Wednesday 22 November 2017.

  1. Mr Buckingham to move—

That, under standing order 52, there be laid upon the table of the House within 14 days of the date of

passing of this resolution the following documents in the possession, custody or control of the

Department of Industry and the Minister for Primary Industries, Minister for Regional Water, and

Minister for Trade and Industry:

(a) the first second and third NSW Ombudsman’s reports of 2009, 2012 and 2013 referred to at

pages 9, 10 and 11 of the “Investigation into water compliance and enforcement 2007-17: A

special report to Parliament under section 31 of the Ombudsman Act 1974,” dated November

2017, and

(b) any legal or other advice regarding the scope or validity of this order of the House created as a

result of this order of the House.

Ombudsman’s report exposes water compliance as rotten to the core

MEDIA RELEASE – 15 Nov 2017

A special report to the NSW Parliament by the NSW Ombudsman exposes that water compliance and enforcement has been rotten to the core for almost a decade and the government has failed to act despite repeated and detailed warning by the Ombudsman.  Previous Ombudsman reports in 2009, 2012 and 2013 told the government of the serious issues with compliance and enforcement, yet the government has failed to act and refused to publicly release those three Ombudsman reports.

NSW Greens water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said:

“It’s clear that enforcement of water law does not function in NSW and is rotten to the core.  Some of these revelations are worse than 4 Corners or the Matthews Report.

“The government has been repeatedly warned by the Ombudsman that water compliance and enforcement is rotten, yet has turned a blind eye and deliberately hid previous Ombudsman reports from the public.

“It is only because the Ombudsman used his powers to go around the water minister and have this interim report tabled in parliament that we now know just how rotten things are in Water NSW.

“We need a broad ranging Royal Commission to investigate water in NSW so that all the issues and allegations that are out there are thoroughly investigated independently.

“Water minister Niall Blair must have known about the serious compliance and enforcement issues, but has done nothing but stonewall and cover up.  Enforcement actions have plunged under Minister Blair from 820 in 2014/15, to 200 in 2016/17.

“The Natural Resource Access Regulator Bill currently before parliament is a case in point.  The Bill fails to properly implement the recommendations of the Matthews Inquiry that compliance and Enforcement be controlled by an independent body.  The bill leaves responsibility with the Minister and the Department of Primary Industries, thus failing to deal with the conflict of interest identified by Ken Matthews and the Ombudsman.

“The Nationals must be stripped of the water portfolio or it will remain an area of maladministration and ripe for corruption.”

Some highlights from the Investigation into water compliance and enforcement 2007-2017:

  • The Ombudsman initiated his investigation in July 2016. He referred one matter to ICAC in April 2017.
  • Previous Ombudsman reports in 2009, 2012 and 2013 warned about serious issues – were kept secret by the government.
  • Compliance officers were ‘press ganged’ into the role without proper training or skills.
  • Water NSW staff allege they were directed not to investigate or had their delegations removed.
  • No enforcement action had been taken on unlicensed dams that contained large volumes of water and were being used for irrigation purposes without the required water access licences or water allocations in a water sharing plan area.
  • The transfer of some compliance and enforcement functions to Water NSW under the Transformation was having a debilitating effect on the conduct of enforcement activities across the State.
  • There were systemic failures by senior management, in both past and current regimes, to take action on water compliance matters.
  • Expenditure on compliance between 2012 and 2016 was $10 million less than recommended by IPART.
  • Excessive delays in completing investigations and taking enforcement and prosecution action and of matters that were not being sufficiently prepared before the relevant statute of limitation periods expired.
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