Tuesday, 12 February 2019
Dobell Electorate: Coalmining
The Central Coast community has been let down by the Morrison government, following its reckless approval of the Wallarah 2 coalmine under our precious water catchment. My community deserves answers. If this speculative coalmine goes ahead, our water catchment is at risk from subsidence, water loss and potential contamination. Why has the Morrison government given approval to the mine when they know it poses a real threat to the security of our drinking water? The EPBC Act water trigger, introduced by the last Labor government, is to protect our water. When the safety and supply of the drinking water of some 350,000 people is at stake, surely the highest level of scrutiny and caution must be exercised by the federal environment minister.
KORES, the foreign company planning to mine under our valleys, has acknowledged the subsidence and water loss this mine will cause. Its solution? To treat the water generated by the mine, and then put that treated mine water back into our drinking water catchment!
The people of the Central Coast living in Dobell and in Robertson cannot believe that Minister Price and the Prime Minister expect them and their children and families to drink treated mine water. And, if something does go wrong, can my community be expected to rely on a for-profit mining company to stop extracting coal and put our water supply before its profits? Is the environment minister truly satisfied that, without even producing a methodology, a mining company can be trusted to treat mine water to a potable standard? Can anyone dispute the expert opinion that this mine would lower the water table under the Dooralong and Yarramalong valleys by at least 20 per cent?
When the mine was last referred to the federal government under the EPBC water trigger in 2013, the Independent Expert Scientific Committee of that time concluded that the miner had not done enough work to prove the project's safety. In 2016 the IESC, with some newly appointed members on the committee, came to a different conclusion.
The committee's advice may have changed, but the situation for the Central Coast community has not. Why are the federal Liberal government and the New South Wales Liberal government putting a speculative coalmine before the security of our drinking water? The New South Wales Liberals have earmarked our region for rapid population growth by 2030. The Central Coast already has a small and stressed water catchment. We cannot afford the devastation this longwall coalmine will cause coupled with a drought. During the millennium drought the coast dam levels dropped to below 10 per cent. Over 50 per cent of the water in our dams comes from aquifers in the valleys where the mine will be located. If those aquifers are damaged by this coalmine, our water supply is at risk. Our council is just today introducing water restrictions, as our dam levels sit at 50 per cent. Our community has been abandoned by Minister Price's reckless decision to approve this coalmine. The safest way to stop this mine and to protect our water supply is to elect a New South Wales Labor government.