Phil Laird is a Maules Creek farmer with a big coal mine in his backyard and the threat of more extractive resources industries putting down stumps around him. Needless to say he's concerned about how this is shaping up ? and who's keeping watch for the future. He is also a regular Leader columnist and opinion maker.
It is amazing to hear Andrew Stoner telling us that he is getting the balance right for regional NSW.
Where this line comes from God only knows and when the words "strategic" and "balance" are used my blood starts to boil.
I didn't vote for him to balance our interests against the interests of multinational mining companies and the sooner he gets this message the better for all concerned ? including the miners.
The truth is that the balance has swung over, way over, in favour of the miners and instead of being content with their situation they want more and more.
In fact they want all NSW. If we are going to get the balance right we need to be protecting our environment, our productive farm land and our water resources now.
We are in the early stages of a minerals boom that typifies earlier bubbles and is only matched by the dot com bubble and the free-wheeling days prior to the GFC where anything goes.
Billionaires come and go and this is not a feature of the "new" economy but a disturbing evolution of the old.
Unfortunately, this time we are dealing with the interrelated systems that supports life on this planet and not hot air concepts stored on digital media or esoteric financial instruments.
We are talking about our land, our water and our climate and for this reason the principles for decision making are completely different.
The Leard Forest precinct is a case in point as a biodiversity hotspot being planned for massive open-cut coal mining.
Every year, more than 150 million tonnes of overburden material may be moved in order to uncover 23 million tonnes of coal. This Biodiversity Asset is part of 3 per cent of the state identified as Tier 1 and is also protected under the federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. It is absolutely inappropriate for open cut mining to be located in a Tier 1 Biodiversity Asset such as the Leard Forest, no matter what your idea of balance is.
When something is wrong it is simply wrong and the use of weasel words to countenance anything else is bordering on the criminal. In fact, clearing such a forest would be criminal ? if the proponent was a farmer. The balance needs to be resumed, laws should apply to everyone including the extractive industries.
No one is permitted to knowingly pollute a potable water aquifer with dangerous chemicals. The current aquifer interference policy will allow exactly that. The drilling fluids used in exploration commonly include glycols, the toxic green component of the coolant in a car radiator to keep the drill bits cool.
A motor mechanic must dispose of spent glycol appropriately. They can't throw it on the ground and they certainly can't pour it into an aquifer that supplies town drinking water.
If getting the balance right is polluting our aquifers then something is terribly wrong with the sense of balance in this state.
Furthermore, the greenhouse gas emissions from the 23 million tonnes of coal produced from the mines in the Leard forest will exceed the emissions from 165 individual nations.
More than New Zealand, Hungary, Sweden and Denmark. Greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are forecast to be the major cause of climate change that is currently tracking above the worst case scenario and will disproportionately impact on the people of this region and our future generations. Australia is a nation that exports 35 per cent of the world's export coal and is a major player in the economics and magnitude of the looming climate change.
Our children are part of the equation and we have a responsibility to manage our environment and our assets for all generations. For our children and grandchildren, this is not balance and definitely not strategic.
If we want strategy and balance we need to be putting on the brakes to these extractive industries, not giving them their head.
We need a permanent moratorium on fracking, a halt to the open cut mining in sensitive environmental and agricultural lands. We need to be building a sovereign wealth fund and develop renewable energy alternatives.
The Boggabri coal project has been pushed through the planning department and has now gone to the final stage as the NSW governmentt abandons the forest and the community to the miners. Tony Burke has the power to get the balance right and stop open-cut mining in the publicly owned Leard State Forest. He is waiting for your call.
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