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23   Environment—New South Wales—Shenhua Watermark Coal Mine

Senator Rhiannon, pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved general business notice of motion no. 681—That the Senate—

    (a)   notes that:

                  (i)   the Minister for the Environment (Mr Hunt) has referred the Shenhua Watermark coal mine planned for the Liverpool Plains to the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (IESC) for assessment under the water trigger provisions of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act),

                 (ii)   the Namoi catchment, that includes the Liverpool Plains, is the largest groundwater system in the Murray Darling catchment and the Shenhua project triggered the requirement to consider water impacts of the mine under the EPBC Act,

                (iii)   the Federal Government has passed legislation in the House of Representatives, including to hand over application of the water trigger, including approval decisions, under the EPBC Act to state and territory governments and local councils, and

                (iv)   as well as the proposed Shenhua Watermark project two other major mining projects are proposed for the Liverpool Plains - BHP Billiton is planning a coal mine of 500 000 000 tonnes less than 10 km from the Shenhua site, and Santos has a coal seam gas licence to explore for gas across the whole Liverpool Plains floodplain;

    (b)   calls on the Minister for the Environment to publicly clarify:

                  (i)   if he is requiring that the IESC review assess the cumulative impacts of the project in association with other developments, whether past, present or reasonably foreseeable,

                 (ii)   whether the IESC will carry out the bioregional assessment of the impact of the proposed mine on the Namoi catchment, or whether they will be simply reviewing other work rather than carrying out their own independent work, and

                (iii)   if the IESC will be required to engage with the Local Land Services to assess the cumulative impacts, or if a desktop assessment of the hydrogeology and geology is all that is required; and

     (c)   calls on the Minister for the Environment to retain the water trigger at the federal level and abandon its plans to hand it off to state and territory governments.

Question put.

The Senate proceeded to divide—

The call for the division was withdrawn by leave.

Question put and passed.

Statement by leave : Senator Williams, by leave, made a statement relating to the motion.