NSW Government betrays Hunter Valley

The Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association (HTBA) has accused NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard of betraying the thoroughbred breeding and racing industry and regional communities.

A press release issued by the HTBA on Tuesday follows;

After years of consultation and Government promises to protect our industry, the Minister for Resources and Energy, Chris Hartcher has announced that the NSW Government intends to legislate that the economic significance of a resource is this Government’s principal consideration (State Environmental Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries) Amendment (Resource Significance) 2013.

“Despite years of promises, including from the Premier Barry O’Farrell and Planning Minister Brad Hazzard that “the process will protect us” it is clear that the only thing this Government is prepared to protect is the mining companies and their interests – at the expense of landholders, regional communities, tourism or any non-mining business operation” Dr Cameron Collins said.

There is no mention in Chris Hartcher’s regulations of the NSW Government commitments to triple bottom line assessments, social and agricultural impacts, impacts on prime agricultural lands, industries and vital environmental assets.  The “principal” consideration of any consent authority is the economic benefits of mineral resources and the industries that rely on them.

“This legislation is deeply disconcerting and dishonest.  It betrays every promise the NSW Government has made to industries like ours and to regional communities.  It flies in the face of every policy introduced since the NSW Government was elected to address land use conflicts and protect agricultural industries and the environment.

“It ignores the findings released by the Australia Institute and Economists at Large, which clearly showed that mining companies routinely overstate economic benefits and ignore the costs and impacts on other industries.  It also ignores the findings of the Land and Environment Court in the case of Warkworth.  With this legislation, the NSW Government has indicated that it does not care.” Dr Collins said.

“If this legislation is passed it will signal the death knell for our multi-billion dollar, world renowned industry and many other prime agricultural industries that employ thousands of people and are surrounded by mines and fighting for their existence.”

Are we, and the thousands of employees and families that rely on us, no longer important?  Does our investment uncertainty not matter?  Do our sustainable jobs and investment not matter?  Is NSW only open for mining business and nothing else?  Who is preparing for life after mining?  Or are we consigning the Hunter Valley to the scrap heap?

Why has it taken over 5 months to legislate the “Tough New Rules for Coal Seam Gas” announced by Premier O’Farrell on February 19 and promised within 6 weeks and yet this regulation is released without warning or proper consultation?

“This NSW SEPP has sent shock waves throughout the NSW farming community.  The message we are getting is that the NSW Government does not want our industries and is not prepared to acknowledge their importance or protect them.” Dr Collins said.

“The message from the NSW Government to our industry is prepare your exit strategy NSW is no longer a place for agricultural industries to invest.  Only federal intervention will now protect us.”