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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6395

Mr COULTON (9:45 AM) —I rise this morning to speak about alarming reports I have received over the last couple of days regarding the Chinese government owned Shenhua mining corporation purchasing large blocks of the land in the Watermark exploration lease on and adjacent to the Liverpool Plains in my electorate. The Shenhua mining corporation is China’s largest coalminer and it has recently received a mining exploration licence for 190 square kilometres in my electorate. That is approximately 50,000 acres, and Shenhua has stated that it intends to purchase that entire area. I also understand that in the last couple of weeks the corporation has purchased four or five properties for large amounts of money, with settlement subject to agreement from the Foreign Investment Review Board. While I do not wish ill of the people who have sold their properties for quite substantial profit, I do think as a community and as a nation we need to decide whether we want a 50,000-acre Chinese government owned mine in the middle of some of the most productive agricultural land in Australia.

What also concerns me is that this corporation is used to mining in other parts of the world. Are they going to be brought to heel by the New South Wales government, which received $300 million for this exploration licence? Are they going to be subject to the same planning and environmental considerations as other coalminers?

Mr Melham interjecting

Mr COULTON —In the Gunnedah area there are other coalmines that are working quite environmentally sensitively. I have recently been to the Narrabri coalmine, and they are very well aware of the sensitivities of the environment and of the local community. While we do have a free market operating, as the member opposite says, I still think as a community we need to decide whether we want a 50,000-acre coalmine in the middle of the north-west of New South Wales.