Fiona Simson, NSW Farmers
After years of hard work by NSW Farmers, our members, city and country communities, I am extremely disappointed the much-anticipated land and water protections promised by the O’Farrell government fail to meet our expectations.
The O’Farrell government was elected with a mandate for change following an explosion of mining and coal-seam gas activities in NSW.
The water protections announced this week had the potential to turn this situation around. But unfortunately the government has watered them down so much that they are little more than tokenistic.
We are also bitterly disappointed that despite mapping our ‘strategic agricultural land’ in two regions of the state, the new protections do not rule them off limits to invasive exploration and mining activities.
What is baffling is why the government has chosen to ignore what 87 per cent of the NSW community wanted (Newspoll survey) – parts of agricultural land reserved from mining and coal-seam gas.
Whilst the protections fall short, we have made some ground. We now have a land and water commissioner, regional mapping of land and water resources and a lift on the five-year royalty holiday for CSG companies.
This announcement is not the end for farmers. We will continue our work on this complex issue, press for changes to laws governing extractive industries, lobby to ensure investment is made in scientific data on these industries and push for a review to see if these policies are working.
Thank you to the thousands of people from around our state who have helped farmers and our association bring this issue to the attention of our government. Thanks for marching with us on 1 May in Sydney at our Protect our Land and Water rally. It highlighted how wide the concern is for future sustainability of our food and fibre production in our state.