Tag Archives: Coal Mining

Seven years jail for mine protesters under Mike Baird’s new laws

MEDIA RELEASE - 10 March 2016

The Greens NSW Mining Spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today said it was outrageous that the NSW Government’s Inclosed Lands, Crimes and Law Enforcement Legislation Amendment (Interference) Bill 2016 currently before the parliament will change the definition of a mine site so that peaceful protesters against coal and coal seam gas will face jail sentences of up to seven years for simply expressing their democratic rights.

Section 201 of the Crimes Act 1900 was originally intended to stop serious acts of industrial sabotage by protesting mine workers in the 1980s, but the Bill before parliament expands the definition to encompass coal seam gas sites and construction sites after the courts ruled that protesters trying to stop the construction of Maules Creek coal mine could not be prosecuted under this section as it was a construction site, not a mine.

“Under these draconian laws, Wallabies Captain David Pocock and scores of ‘Knitting nannas’ could be thrown in jail for years simply for standing up for what they feel is important,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“This section of the law is intended for serious acts of sabotage.  It is wrong to apply this section to someone exercising their democratic rights by standing in front of a mining truck, or trespassing with a bike lock and a banner against coal or coal seam gas.

“The government is intimidating protesters with threats of long jail terms to please their mates running the big mining and gas companies.

“Mike Baird should recognise that the significant movement by farmers and others against coal seam gas and coal in NSW is an issue requiring a political solution, not one that will be solved by police arresting protesters and throwing them in jail or issuing crippling fines.”


Statement on New England

“The Greens have a great candidate for the seat New England in Mercurius Goldstein. Mercurius and I have been working closely together on the campaign to protect land, water and communities from coal and coal seam gas.

“Tony Windsor is a titan of Australian politics and champion for the people of New England and the bush more widely.  I wish him well in the election and I hope that Barnaby Joyce loses his seat because Barnaby has been absolutely hopeless in defending agriculture from coal mining and CSG.

“I will certainly be an attack dog going after Barnaby Joyce’s duplicity on issues such as the proposed Shenhua Watermark coal mine and coal seam gas.  While the idea of running for New England and going head to head with Barnaby was attractive, I will not be a candidate for the seat of New England at this election.

“Coal mining and coal seam gas on key agricultural lands is a matter of national significance, as well as a key issue for the voters of New England.  We should not be mining our food bowl, or threatening our precious water resources.  The Greens are the only political party who acknowledge the reality that coal is in structural decline and we need a managed transition to clean energy and sustainable agriculture.

“I’m very happy in the NSW Legislative Council and in my role as Resources, Energy, Water and Agriculture spokesperson for the NSW Greens.

Mercurius Goldstein, Greens candidate for New England said:

“Local New England Greens members preselected and endorsed me as their candidate for New England in August of last year and the announcement was made at AgQuip 2015 in Gunnedah.

“New England voters will be attracted to the long term stable future the Greens offer in sustainable agriculture, protecting the Great Artesian Basin from coal and CSG, and securing Gonski funding for our rural schools.

“Among Greens in NSW, preselection decisions do not rest with a central party or MPs. It is a local New England members’ decision, and they endorsed me to stand for New England based on my performance in the NSW 2015 election.”

Government labels farmers  “eco- fascists” with draconian new laws to benefit mining companies

7 March  2016

The Greens today condemned the creation of draconian new offences to target anti-CSG and coal protesters and called on Premier Mike Baird to distance himself from the comments of his Resources Minister, Anthony Roberts who labelled farmers and others protecting land and water from coal seam gas as “eco-fascists”.

Greens MP and Mining Spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said:

“Many of those taking direct action against coal seam gas projects are farmers who feel they must act to protect the land and water from being poisoned or destroyed.  They are Australian patriots, not ‘eco-fascists’.

“I’ve sat next to a 64 year old farmer with a lock around his neck and the gates of Santos’ project out of concern for water resources and his family’s farming future.

“To label these patriots ‘eco-fascists’ is wrong and offensive, and Premier Mike Baird should distance himself from the ill-informed and shameful comments of Resources Minister Anthony Roberts.

“The Baird Government is showing its true colours by siding big mining interests against patriotic Australians seeking to protect land, water and communities.

“Does Mike Baird care more about paying back his political donors in the mining industry, and doing the bidding of his former Chief of Staff, Stephen Galilee, who now runs the Minerals Council of NSW, than he does about farmers and communities in regional NSW?”

Greens MP and Police Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“This is part of a pattern from the Coalition of evermore aggressive policing and constantly expanding police powers to crack down on protest and attack our civil liberties. NSW must not become a police state.

“These expanded police powers go well beyond coal seam gas protests and will extend across the state to clamp down on protests as diverse as WestConnex, recreational hunting and Forestry.

“I wonder if Baird even notices the irony when his right wing government proposes massive increases in police powers and then describes democratic protestors as ‘fascists’?

“The Greens will being opposing these expanded police powers under the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act because, put simply, we believe in democracy and the right to protest.” Mr Shoebridge said.

Coal industry in fantasy land on new coal mines and social licence

coal mine

MEDIA RELEASE - 4 March  2016

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today questioned the coal industry’s grasp on reality after Kepco Australia vice president Bill Vatovec told the Sydney Mining Club that it was a golden age to build a mine and requested industry support to overcome community opposition.

Mr Vatovec is reported as saying:

“This is a golden gas to build a mine. The risk is in the money we have spent but the opportunity for us is that we wouldn’t get a better climate to build a mine than now.”

“I question Mr Vatovec’s grasp on reality in make this statement given the global glut of coal, plummeting prices, the number of existing coal mines closing or being put up for sale, and global policies to mitigate climate change,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Action on climate change is urgent, the age of coal is over and NSW does not need any new coal mines, particularly mines in the pristine Bylong Valley with its valuable agricultural land and water resources.

“This is a cry for help from a company that admits it does not have a social licence from the community and is pleading with the industry to leverage its links with politicians to get its mine approved.

“A social licence matters as we have seen with other resource projects such as Metgasco and AGL’s coal seam gas proposals and Shenhua’s proposed mine on the Liverpool Plains. Kepco cannot buy a social license from the government or its mining mates.”

“If Kepco really wants an Australian coal mine, it should look to purchase an existing mine from Rio Tinto or others.  It is not the golden age for new coal mines, it is the end of coal.

“The Greens policy is for a ban on new coal mines and a strategy to transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy that provides for regional economic development and employment.”

Time for certainty by ending “unlikely” Shenhua Watermark coal mine

MEDIA RELEASE - 17 February 2016

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today said the admission from a federal government source to the ABC that the Shenhua Watermark coal mine was “unlikely” to go ahead and the expiration of the exploration licence on Monday, provided the opportunity for the NSW Government to provide farmers on the Liverpool Plains with certainty by giving the Chinese mining company its money back and cancelling the licence forever.

“The admission that the Shenhua Watermark coal mine is “unlikely” to go ahead highlights the need for the Premier Mike Baird to act to end the shambles and provide certainty to farmers,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The Shenhua Watermark coal mine makes no sense in the current commodities market and has virtually no support to go ahead.  Premier Mike Baird should end the uncertainty, can the mine and negotiate the return of the $300 million the company paid the NSW Government for the exploration licence.

“The NSW Government should establish and reveal whether the Chinese Government moratorium on new coal mines applies to the Shenhua Watermark coal mine?

“Why should the fertile Liverpool Plains be damaged for a giant new coal mine when a decline in demand and the massive glut of coal on the world market has caused the suspension of new coal mines in China itself?

“Farmers need certainty to make investment decisions, so it is important that the threat of this mine does not hang over their heads for years to come.”

3rd coal mine dam fails. Three strikes and you’re out?

MEDIA RELEASE - 18 January 2016

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today said news that the Environmental Protection Authority was investigating a third Hunter coal mine dam failure, at Bengalla coal mine near Musswellbrook, demonstrated there was a significant and systemic problem with the coal industry failing to implement adequate standards, resulting in serious pollution incidents.

Since the year began, Wambo, Warkworth and Bengalla coal mines in the Hunter Valley have had dam failures resulting in millions of litres of sediment-laden water polluting the environment.  In the second half of 2015, Clarence and Russell Vale coal mines also had dam failures and resulting in significant pollution of waterways.

“As the coal industry heads for the exit door, they are cutting costs and trashing the environment almost with impunity,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Three coal mine dam failures in the Hunter, in addition to two major spills at other coal mines in the last six months indicates there is a systemic problem with the environmental standards being applied by the industry.

“Premier Baird needs to wake up and stop ignoring the reality that coal is in terminal decline, and his government needs to act to protect the environment and the community.

“Where is the strategy that recognises the direction of the energy market is away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy?  Where is the transition plan to assist workers and to provide an alternative basis regional economies?  Where is the plan to ensure these companies rehabilitate the landscape to an adequate standard and protect the environment?

“Without strong regulations and independent monitoring to prevent pollution incidents, the decline of the coal industry represents a toxic threat to the environment and community.”

Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916

Wambo coal mine dam failure highlights dangers of mining in water catchments and farming areas

MEDIA RELEASE - 13 January 2016

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today said the dam failure that the NSW Environmental Protection Authority says has spilled up to three million litres of sediment-laden water at Peabody’s Wambo coal mine in the Hunter Valley, demonstrates why new coal mines and mine expansions should be prohibited in drinking water catchments and in key farming areas like the Liverpool Plains and Southern Highlands.

“This shocking pollution incident highlights why the government should prohibit coal mining in good farming areas and in drinking water catchments,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“This massive spill follows recent pollution incidents at the Clarence colliery near Lithgow and Russell Vale coal mine near Wollongong and highlights the dangers of coal mining to both the natural environment and human health.

“If the Shenhua Watermark mine goes ahead in the Liverpool Plains, we could have similar pollution incidents potentially wrecking the best agricultural soils in Australia.

“How long will we continue to allow the coal industry to pollute the environment and destroy the climate when there are viable, cleaner and safer alternatives sources of energy?

“There is a massive global oversupply of coal and many companies are going bankrupt.  The Baird government should formulate a strategy to phase out coal in NSW, with a ban on new coal mines as the first step.

“Peabody should face the full force of the law and I urge the EPA to keep the public informed of the investigation.”


Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916

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