BEREJIKLIAN GOVERNMENT WEAKENS PROTECTIONS FOR DRINKING WATER CATCHMENT

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Overnight, the Berejiklian-Barilaro Government rammed through legislation which will reduce the current high standards for protecting the Sydney drinking water catchment.

The legislation, to ensure Springvale mine near Lithgow stays open and Mount Piper power station continues to operate and supply the State with 11 per cent of its electricity, also contained unnecessary and dangerous provisions that rewrites important parts of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act and the water catchment State Environment Planning Policy.

While the Berejiklian Government claimed it was merely ‘clarifying’ the law, the legislation significantly rewrote it and overturned a decision of the NSW Court of Appeal on how the law should be applied.

While Labor strongly supported measures to secure the State’s electricity supply and protect more than 600 mining and power jobs in Lithgow, it did not support the additional measures to weaken the legal protections for our drinking water and moved amendments to remove this part of the legislation. 

However, Labor’s amendments were voted down by Liberal and National Party MPs and their conservative cross bench supporters.

NSW Labor will reinstate these protections for our water supply, if elected to government in 2019.

NSW Labor leader Luke Foley, accompanied by Labor’s energy spokesman Adam Searle MLC, spoke with hundreds of workers outside the gates of the Springvale mine on Monday. He outlined Labor’s plan to ensure the mine is kept open, jobs are secured and the local water supply protected.

Springvale is the sole supplier of coal to the nearby Mount Piper power station, which produces 11 per cent of the state’s electricity.

The Liberal-Nationals had sat on their hands since the NSW Court of Appeal handed down a judgement in late August that effectively put the mine on notice. They only acted once they learned of Mr Foley and Mr Searle’s visit.

Mr Foley said the Government’s response was unnecessarily complicated by adding the clauses to downgrade and weaken the water pollution standards set by the Appeal Court of NSW.

Quotes attributable to Opposition Leader Luke Foley

“Labor does not support the weakening of laws that protect the catchment. A Foley Labor Government will reinstate the highest level of standards to ensure our drinking water remains free from contamination.

“This situation was partly due to the inaction of the NSW Government over the course of a ten-week period; which put jobs and 11 percent of the state’s power supply at risk.

“The Bill only needed to deal with Springvale so this is an absolute overreach to change the game across the board.”

Quotes attributable to Shadow Minister for Energy Adam Searle

“Labor’s plan would have delivered security of electricity supply for the State while guaranteeing local jobs and long-overdue environmental protections for our drinking water.

“The current Premier has left the State exposed to an over-reliance on coal-fired power by failing to support the adequate development of new electricity generation projects for NSW. Only a NSW Labor Government will ensure this is addressed through growing renewable energy in NSW and delivering strong and appropriate protections for our drinking water.”

“The Bill only needed to deal with Springvale so this is an absolute overreach to change the game across the board.”