Labor Calls on Baird to suspend Wallarah 2 approval process in light of new revelations that ICAC is investigating project

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The NSW Labor Opposition has demanded Mike Baird immediately suspend the Liberal Government’s approval process for the Wallarah 2 mine in light of revelations that ICAC is investigating the dealings around the project – and may announce a separate inquiry into the matter.

At the weekend, it was reported that ICAC is investigating dealings between former Energy Minister Chris Hartcher and Nick Di Girolamo – the lobbyist for the mine proponent, Kores.

  • “The Independent Commission Against Corruption has launched a new investigation into former NSW resources minister Chris Hartcher and Liberal lobbyist Nick Di Girolamo’s role in the initial approval of a controversial $800 million coalmine on the central coast.” (The Weekend Australian, 3 May 2014)

The Government’s Planning Department has recommended the mine’s approval – despite the Liberal Party famously guaranteeing in Opposition that the project would never go ahead.

  •  ''The next Liberal National government will ensure mining cannot occur here; will ensure that mining cannot occur in any water catchment area … No ifs, no buts. A guarantee.'' Barry O’Farrell at a rally on the Central Coast, January 28, 2009

“It is imperative that Mike Baird suspend his Government’s approval process for the Wallarah 2 mine given the reports that ICAC is now actively exploring this matter,” Shadow Planning Minister Luke Foley said today.

“The Liberals promised the people of the Central Coast that this mine would not go ahead under their Government – yet following the election the approval process for the mine proceeded with the Planning Department allowing the mine to be considered by the PAC.

“Now that the corruption watchdog is scrutinising the lobbying activities preceding that broken promise, Mike Baird cannot pretend that it’s business as usual.

“The Wallarah 2 mine approval must be put on hold until ICAC hands down its findings.

“Labor has demanded this for several months.

“If he was serious about restoring confidence in government, Mike Baird should have halted this project on day one of his Premiership.

"It is now day 20.

“Having lost a Premier, an Energy Minister and now a Police Minister, this is a Government in crisis – and Mike Baird can’t use the excuse that he’s still finding his feet.”

Labor has pursued the Government all year over its broken promise over Wallarah 2.

In March, the Opposition introduced legislation into the NSW Parliament to protect certain land on the Central Coast from mining and mining-related activities – ensuring that Wallarah 2 would not proceed.

The former Premier Barry O’Farrell was forced to reveal in Parliament that on February 28, 2012 he met with Kores, Mr Hartcher and Mr Di Girolamo before he even officially registered as a lobbyist – raising further questions as to how the Liberal’s pre-election position on Wallarah came to be changed.

Mr O’Farrell also failed to answer questions from the Opposition on 4 March 2014 about then Minister Hartcher meeting with Kores on a $19,000 taxpayer funded trip to South Korea in 2012.