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Byron Shire
December 6, 2021

Mining-industry consultation ‘a sham’

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Planning Assessment Commission member Garry West sits on mining community consultative committees, pictured at a PAC hearing in the Tweed recently.
Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) member Garry West sits on four government-appointed community consultative committees for coal mining projects yet his remuneration has been kept secret. He is pictured here during a recent PAC hearing in the Tweed.

A  call has been made to scrap the NSW government’s regulations on how mining companies consult with communities after it was revealed one woman was employed as the independent chair of 15 different community consultative committees (CCC)  by seven different mining companies, and her payments have not been disclosed.

The Greens have also revealed that the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) and current Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) member Garry West, a former Nationals MP and former mining minister, chairs four CCCs for undisclosed sums.

Greens NSW spokesperson on mining, Jeremy Buckingham, has called on the government to reform the regulations around mining CCCs, saying the Department of Planning Guidelines for CCCs made it clear that payments to the ‘independent chair’ should be disclosed on the website:

Mr West chairs the Integra Vale, Ulan coal, Moorlaben coal, and the BHP Caroona CCCs for undisclosed sums.

The guidleines state that ‘if such fees or expenses are paid, then the company should indicate that this is occurring on the company’s website, so that the broader community remains fully informed.’

Mr Buckingham said ‘‘I cannot find a single instance where a resource company has publicly declared the payments to the ‘independent chair’ of their CCC.

‘These companies are in breach of the planning department’s rules,’ he said

‘Undeclared payments directly from the mining company undermine the independence of the chair and the community’s confidence in the CCC.

‘The current system means that the community often perceives the “independent chair” as simply a stooge of the mining company.

‘The regulations should be changed so that the “independent chair” is appointed and paid by the government, not by the mining companies.   The chair’s payment should be publicly disclosed by the government.

‘The Greens want reform of the CCCs because communities have lost all faith in them and see them more as a facade on consultation that simply does the companies bidding and ties up the community.

‘It’s an outrageous conflict of interest that former Nationals MP Garry West can be paid by coal companies to chair CCCs, and then also have a role as a decision maker with the PAC and JRPP.

‘Garry West is notoriously pro-coal and was on the PAC that approved the controversial Maules Creek coal mine.

‘The government must clean up with part of the mining sector.  The people of NSW are sick of corruption and cronyism. The Greens will continue our push for clean politics,’ he said.


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  1. Why are we not surprised. Everything about this industry’s licensing is dodgy. All associated licenses approved should be repealed, lest the government proves itself utterly corrupt (also unsurprising).

    Before preaching to we, the people, about the need to behave decently, despite the rampant lack of democracy, foresight, and duty of care, oh, and common decency, the powers that be had best clean up their own act. Something is foul in the state of NSW, and then some!

  2. Is the gold mining indusrty also paid by the mine sometimes, thus ignoring pecuniary interest obligations? Can one raise this without being sued or expelled from mine-community meetings?

  3. Problem: a major project is in abeyance. Past employees need not disclose any personal interest ,even if they have worked for or hope to work for the project. Ditto close relatives. Now they are not employed. What is the legal position re disclosure, then?


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