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Oakeshott welcomes passage of coal-seam gas bill.

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17 September 2012


IT has taken some time, but legislation that elevates science above mining royalties in the assessment of coal-seam gas projects has finally passed through the Australian Parliament.

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment (Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development) Bill 2012 was introduced in March. After three months in the Senate, it returned to the House of Representatives today where it was passed and will now become law.

“Establishing an independent scientific panel, reaching agreement with the states on how best to assess CSG and coal mining projects, and allocating $200 million to insert independent science into the assessment process makes for better public policy,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“I acknowledge the work of many people in helping to achieve this, including the Independent Member for New England, Tony Windsor,” Mr Oakeshott said.

“It is important that the Commonwealth and states now use these new powers as they were intended.

“If they are abused or ignored, particularly by state governments hungry for tax receipts, then we need to revisit these powers, and beef them up.

“I note the eight-fold increase in the forward estimates that NSW expects from mining royalties, from $1.24 billion to $8.5 billion over the next four years.

“The forecast reveals resource harvesting is a very important growth area for the NSW Government, so the community’s voice has the potential to be trashed by a cash-hungry state.

“If that happens, particularly following the release last week of NSW’s inadequate regional land use strategy, then I’m very open to revisiting these new federal laws in consultation with affected communities, in particular Taree and Gloucester,” Mr Oakeshott said.


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