The NSW Greens have slammed the appointment of former Richmond MP Larry Anthony, a paid lobbyist for giant Chinese coal-mining company Shenhua, as the National Party’s federal president.
Mr Anthony, who was Richmond MP from 1996-2004, is a director of SAS Consulting Group, which lists Shenhua Watermark as one of its clients on the NSW Lobbyist Register.
The miner was recently given federal approval for a major and controversial open-cut coal mine in the NSW Liverpool Plains, which is being strenuously opposed by local communities, farmers and environmentalist.
Mr Anthony is expected to be elected unopposed as the party’s next federal president when the National party’s federal council meets in Canberra this weekend.
The Greens NSW mining spokesman Jeremy Buckingham says Mr Anthony ‘has also been personally lobbing the NSW Department of Planning on behalf of Shenhua since at least 2012’.
Mr Buckingham provided media with a planning department document extract from 2013 showing Mr Anthony in its Lobbyist Contact Register on the mining company’s Watermark coal project.
‘It’s clear that the modern National Party is nothing more than the political arm of the mining lobby,’ Mr Buckingham said.
‘The decision to allow Shenhua to mine the heart out of the Liverpool Plains, the food bowl of Australia, is completely irresponsible and the public are understandably sceptical about the influence that the revolving door between politicians and the mining industry has had on decisions like this.
‘It seems Shenhua have contracted senior National Party identities to open doors and smooth the path to a mine approval to the detriment of farmers.
‘The National Party have sold their soul and sold out farmers. The Greens stand ready to fill the gap to protect agriculture,’ Mr Buckingham said.
Mr Anthony was the last in a line of political dynasties with his father Doug a previous Richmond MP as well as his grandfather Hubert.
Mr Anthony is set to be elected at the Nats executive meeting this weekend.
But according to The Land, he will attend the council meeting after achieving the required conference delegate status through a vacancy with the South Australian National party branch.
The Land reported yesterday that Mr Anthony was ‘forced to move onto the South Australian division after other options were shut down to pursue his presidency nomination, with conference delegate nominations already decided for the NSW and Queensland branches’.
The report said some delegates ‘were also concerned about Mr Anthony’s potential conflicts of interest while working as a mining lobbyist, and had subsequently pushed for retiring LNP president Bruce McIver to take on the role’.