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Thursday, 14 March 2013
Page: 2184


Mr CRAIG THOMSON (Dobell) (14:30): My question is to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Liberal Party identity Nick di Girolamo, who is linked to the Obeid family through a $3 million loan from the Obeid family trust to buy shares in Australian water holdings, appears to have convinced his Liberal mate Premier O'Farrell to continue to examine the feasibility of a mine in my electorate directly under designated water catchment areas. Will the government support the Central Coast community and my private members' bill to stop this mine, or do they line up with the mining interests and those of Premier O'Farrell? (Time expired)

Mr BURKE (WatsonMinister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities) (14:30): Over the years, questions have been asked of environment ministers in which environment ministers are asked to comment on specific proposals. Every environment minister has answered those questions the same way and I do not propose to depart from that. If an environment minister in any way prejudges a development application, the application itself gets thrown out in court, and so it should, because the framework for an environment minister should be national environmental law, and national environmental law alone. The only additional issue that would be attached to the particular proposal the member for Dobell refers to would be if, when it was first made a controlled action, there was no concept of a water trigger—and there is now a proposal for a water trigger before this parliament.

The particular mine that the member for Dobell refers to, as I understand it, has already been determined to be a controlled action and is in the beginnings of its process. I think there may have been a public comment stage already. What would happen in that instance is that they would be among the companies that are now being contacted by my department and directed as to what additional information would be required to take into account the broader impact on water resources should the parliament pass the amendment now before it.