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Wednesday, 14 September 2011
Page: 10163

Ms SAFFIN (Page) (09:48): I wish to table a petition that has been given to me by 1,449 people in my electorate of Page. I have a letter from the Petitions Committee stating that it is in accordance with procedures. In speaking to the petition, I will paraphrase what it says. It is from residents of the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales and it draws to the attention of the House a proposal for a Casino-to-Ipswich gas pipeline in north-east New South Wales which is currently being assessed under both state environmental planning legislation and the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. The petitioners request that the House reject this proposal, as they feel it is an inappropriate development for the region and will have a range of negative impacts on our World Heritage areas, farmlands, waterways and local communities. Additionally, they sent me a letter with some expert advice that they had had on this area in seeking to have the EPBC Act assessment include that World Heritage assessment, which is a point of debate in this issue.

The issue that we agree with is coal seam gas. It is a big issue in my area, it is a big issue right across New South Wales and it is a big issue in many other places. It is primarily a state responsibility because of mining legislation in New South Wales—there are about three primary acts and seven other acts that are applicable in this area. There is also some limited applicability at federal level under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. I have looked at the reach of that to see what can be done in this area and I have taken advice on whether the Water Act 2007 could apply. That primarily applies to areas affecting the Murray-Darling Basin, but I am looking at that as well.

My primary concern is about water. Everybody is concerned about water and what impact coal seam gas could have on it. Farmers are concerned as well about the impact on the land. I note that the New South Wales parliament is conducting an inquiry into coal seam gas which is receiving a lot of attention. I also note and look forward to reading the New South Wales Farmers Association submission, with 26 recommendations on this very issue. Some of those are quite sensible recommendations about how we proceed with coal seam gas.

I note that often people want the federal government, whoever they are, to fix everything that the states do not do. That is not always possible, but this is an issue we need to tackle. (Time expired)