Tuesday, 16 February 2021

NSW Deputy Premier & Nationals MP for Monaro John Barilaro proves once again that he doesn't understand that mining & overdevelopment has marked downsides for communities in north-east NSW

On 3 February 2021 NSW Deputy Premier, Minister for Regional New South Wales, Nationals MP for Monaro and apologist for unrestrained land clearing, logging of our remaining native forests, barely regulated urban development and mining in sensitive water catchments, John Barilaro, relaunched the government’s three-year-old 20-Year Economic Vision for Regional NSW at Sanctus Brewing Company, in Townsend in the Lower Clarence Valley.

Now that so-called economic vision for the North Coast originally relied heavily on expansion & diversification of tourism and agriculture – but with Barilaro’s ‘vision refresh’ of this 20-year plan he is now pushing the barrow for his mineral ore mining, coal seam gas drilling, native timber logging and land developing mates.

Under the guise of a state government response to the CVOVID-19 pandemic the push to overturn the moratorium on coal seam gas mining in the Northern Rivers region from the Clarence Valley up to the NSW-Qld border no longer talks of “gasfields” but hides the intent behind the terms “resources for regions” and the stealthy push to divert Clarence River catchment water is secreted behind the term “water security” and a Mole River dam.

Last year north-east NSW discovered one of the legislative mechanisms Barilaro plans to use to lay waste to this region and it wasn't pretty - involving as it does the possible extinction of a unique Australian species, the Koala.

His speech of 3 February 2021 confirms he still intends to lay waste.

Clarence Valley Independent, 10 February 2021:

Deputy Premier John Barilaro kindly allowed the Independent to ask two questions before he adjourned to the media wall, where the press corps awaited.

GH: In November 2020, Clarence Valley Council resolved to, and I quote, “oppose mining in the Clarence River catchment [and] … seek the support of both state and federal governments, to impose a moratorium on further mining exploration licences and to cancel existing licences”, largely due to the threat it poses to the Clarence River (the lifeblood of the valley’s key industries, tourism, agricultural and fishing): how will the NSW Government protect the valley’s tourism, fishing and agricultural sectors from any potential mining disaster if the government continues encouraging miners to explore for minerals that will be in demand as we transfer towards renewable energy?

JB: If you were listening to what I said earlier, that is going to happen naturally. We’ve always had coexistence with mining, agriculture [and] our coastal and environmental habitats – we’ve always done this, protect the environment and find ways to do it. The whole mining world is going to change in time; we’ll go with that. We’ve identified where coal mining will continue in this state; other areas have been ruled out. It was our party that ruled out coal seam gas.

GH: The minerals of interest in the Clarence Valley are those you spoke about regarding renewables.

JB: And it’s very possible, but you talk about mining in a way that it is bad, that it can’t be done in a safe way. So my answer is we’ll continue to do what we’ve always done: work with the communities, work with the mining sector and make sure that we only mine in areas we are comfortable with.

GH: But I said it was Clarence Valley Council that made the [no mining decision] decision.

JB: Sorry, I missed that.

GH: And soon there will be a 10,000-plus signature petition tabled in parliament on the issue, from local people.

NOTE: Mr Barilaro made no comment regarding the petition.

GH: You also talked about keeping kids in the community. Your ‘Economic Vision for Regional NSW’ emphasises moving more people into the regions, however, yesterday’s ABS figures show there has been a record amount of city to region migration. This, in turn, has exponentially increased property prices (as MC Mat Moran alluded to in his speech), which, in turn, increases the cost of rental properties. Given that people in the regions earn substantially less than their city counterparts, how will the government address the property market imbalance as cashed-up city dwellers purchase properties and make it harder to find affordable accommodation or purchase property in certain regions?

JB: With property comes jobs, with industry comes jobs. You want to attract more people into the regions; councils have got to unlock more Greenfield sites, more supply, to put downward pressure on prices. What we’ll do and have always done…. And I’ve been speaking with the planning minister about his work with local government, about the supply side of the development arm of residential property. The reality here is we want to see the future of the regions grow; to do that you have to attract the people to the regions. Otherwise, government services are cut, or government services are not invested in – this is the fine balance. I’m not going to limit the opportunities for the regions because we have an issue around the price of property, when we know we can resolve that through more Greenfield sites. Again, good planning gives better outcomes.

GH: So it’s a long-term strategy?

JB: Yes, long-term, thank you.

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