Category Archives: Western NSW

42 Days to Respond to Vickery Coal Mine Extension proposal too short for drought-stricken farmer

MEDIA RELEASE - 24 September 2018

NSW Greens Resources spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today called on the NSW Government to extend the review period for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Vickery Coal Mine Extension from 42 days to 90 days, to allow the local community adequate time to review the 4,000 page EIS.

The Extension Project proposes to increase mine extraction from 4.5 to up to 10 million tonnes per annum, with potentially significant impacts on surrounding landholders.

“The idea that farming families in Narrabri, Boggabri and Gunnedah, currently dealing with the drought, could get across the detail of 4,000 pages in 40 days is disrespectful at best. These are complex, technical documents that take time to digest and respond to,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Planning Minister Antony Roberts sitting in his Lane Cove electorate office clearly has no understanding of the pressures on farmers in the day to day operation of their businesses.”

“This is effectively a new mine in a sensitive agricultural area, and the community must have adequate time to respond to the potentially significant impacts of the proposal on groundwater resources and noise especially.”

“The Greens strongly back the farmers’ very reasonable request of the Planning Minister to provide an extension of time to 90 days to review the documents. This extension of time will go some of the way to ensuring that there is proper scrutiny and consideration of the impacts,” said Mr Buckingham.

“There should be no new coal mines or coal mine expansions in an era of worsening climate change, especially with the impacts of climate change so evident in the impacts of this severe drought. It is negligent and irresponsible for the Government to be allowing this proposal to proceed.”

Ombudsman report damns water compliance performance

MEDIA RELEASE - 17 August 2018

NSW Greens water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said today’s Ombudsman’s report Water: Compliance and Enforcement once again details how the NSW government downgraded and neglected water compliance until 4 Corners exposed its failures in July 2017. He backed the Ombudsman’s recommendation that the rollout of meters for water users be fast-tracked to be completed before the current target date of 2023.

“Once again we have a damning Ombudsman report into water compliance in NSW. Successive National Party water ministers have allowed compliance to be underfunded and neglected to the point where the Ombudsman has revealed that compliance officers were not issued Penalty Infringement Notice books for over a year after being transferred to WaterNSW,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Placing the Nationals in charge of water is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house. Unfortunately, water is an area where government action and inaction can result in significant windfall profits for some water users, which is why compliance and enforcement is so crucial.

“The Greens strongly back the Ombudsman’s recommendation that the government speed up the rollout of metering for water users. The Ken Matthews inquiry recommended a ‘no meter, no pump’ rule, but the government has squibbed it with a slow roll out of water meters.

“It’s not just the drought that has dried up our inland rivers, it is also decades of neglect, mismanagement, corruption and over-allocation.”

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.

“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.”

Government dragged kicking and screaming to actually enforce water law

MEDIA RELEASE - 8 March 2018
The NSW Greens welcome the announcement of prosecutions on water compliance matters, but said the government was dragged kicking and screaming into actually enforcing water laws and had announced the prosecutions today as a smokescreen from a damning Ombudsman’s report on Water NSW providing false figures to the Ombudsman that is due to be tabled in NSW Parliament later today.

NSW greens water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said:

“It’s smokescreen that these prosecutions have been announced on the day when the Ombudsman will table a damning report on how Water NSW provided false figures in an effort to cover up the lack of enforcement.

“This government has been dragged kicking and screaming into actually having to enforce water law.  The lack of compliance has undermined public confidence in the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

“Water theft has real world consequences for the environment and downstream communities. The Darling River is bone dry or suffering blue-green algae breakouts because of over extraction by upstream irrigators.

“The fish rots from the head down, and successive National Party water ministers have created a culture that has resulted in a lack of compliance and favourable treatment of big irrigators.”

Buck stops with Niall Blair: water compliance deception not acceptable

Media Release - 27 February 2018

NSW Greens water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham called on NSW water minister Niall Blair to come clean on whether his Department has attempted to deceive the NSW Ombudsman over compliance actions taken on water issues, saying that the buck had to stop with the minister if there has been any deception, given the Westminster system and the minister’s continual attempts to play down and cover up allegations of water theft and corruption.

“Water minister Niall Blair has led by example in his repeated attempts to play down, stone wall and cover up the growing scandal with water theft and compliance in NSW,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“If it is true his Department has now been caught trying to deceive the Ombudsman, then they are simply mirroring the attitude taken by Minister Blair and he must accept responsibility.

“The minister has repeatedly resisted calls for previous Ombudsman reports to be tabled in NSW Parliament to the extent that the Ombudsman is now reporting directly to the parliament to ensure the minister can not block their release.

“The acute and chronic failure in water compliance in NSW is undermining the entire Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

“The ever growing scandal in the administration of water in Australian needs a Royal Commission to lance the boil,” he said.

NSW must stay in the Murray Darling Basin Plan

MEDIA RELEASE - 15 February 2018

NSW Greens water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham today condemned NSW water minister Niall Blair’s comments that NSW should pull out of the Murray Darling Basin Plan as irresponsible and continuing the pattern of siding with big cotton irrigators against the long-term health of the river and the communities and ecology that depend on it.

NSW Greens water spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said:

“The National Party have been working with big irrigators for a long time to either gut the Plan or pull out. The real loser is the river, the ecology, the farmers, communities, and the ability to have good governance between the states.

“I’ve been inundated by Australians who care about the health of the Murray and Darling Rivers, who want the billions of public money buying back real water to flow down our rivers rather than being wasted on smoke and mirrors infrastructure tricks, or paying for water that gets sucked up irrigators pipes anyway because NSW water metering and compliance is farcical.

“The Nationals’ record on water is highly abysmal and under investigation for corruption. They are in no position to lecture anyone about water management and should be stripped of all responsibility for water.

“Prime Minister Turnbull should show some national leadership by giving the Murray Darling Basin Authority some teeth, enforce genuine metering, compliance and buybacks, and stare down parochial state ministers and the handful of irrigation companies that have been trying to gut the MDBP and public confidence in water management.

“The Greens will always act to ensure a successful Murray Darling Basin Plan, but that means a plan that actually delivers water back to the rivers, not some dodgy agreement designed to benefit irrigators.”

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.”

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