The Independent Commission Against Corruption hearings into the issuing of coal exploration licences by the former Labor government havehighlighted major deficiencies in the way mineral resources have been managed in NSW, according to the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.
NCC campaigns director Kate Smolski said the examination of potential corruption in the awarding of coal exploration licences had highlighted the need to thoroughly overhaul the system by which the state deals with the assessment and approval of mining and gas projects.
‘A lack of transparency is one of the reasons that corruption has been able to flourish and it is one of the central flaws in the whole system,’ Ms Smolski said.
‘We have had weeks of revelations in ICAC hearings of serious malfeasance and fundamental flaws in the system of planning assessment and approvals for major projects in this state.
‘This has just scratched the surface of long-term and significant problems with the process.
‘Premier Barry Mr O’Farrell has inherited this broken system and it now falls to him to fix it. The government must put in place a transparent system that allows for thorough, timely public scrutiny and input into proposed projects that will affect the land, water and communities of New South Wales.’
Ms Smolski said the government must set in train a process that will ensure independent and rigorous assessment of mining and gas projects and a transparent and accountable process throughout the planning and licensing process.
She said proposed changes to the Mining State Environmental Planning Policy did little to address the system’s main deficiencies.
‘The proposed changes simply build upon an inadequate system that has permitted unchecked expansion of mining and gas,’ Ms Smolski said.