The long awaited Victorian government response to the ‘Inquiry into Greenfields mineral exploration and project development in Victoria’ was tabled this afternoon.
“A key focus of the report is the emerging coal seam gas (CSG) industry. The response highlights the large sums of money that will be put into ‘building community confidence in the industry’. The government has stepped beyond being a regulator of this industry, and intends to act as its advocate. Surely it is up to industry to convince the community that it has social license to operate. It is clear the government has decided to side with industry in the struggle over land use in Victoria”.
While there are a small number of positive developments, such as better notification of exploration applications, and research into ground water resources, the vast majority of the government’s response will privilege the interests of the mining industry over legitimate community concerns about new mining operations”.
“This response aims to fast track mining developments while throwing large amounts of public funds at ‘community education’ programs. While the proposed state-wide strategic land assessment is promising, the experience in other states is that it will lead to only limited protection for agricultural land. What is especially worrying about the Victorian proposal is the prospect of mineral reserves being given higher priority than other needs such as food production. The government intends to carry out a resource assessment of mineral values before exempting any land form mining.”
The government intends to increase prospecting access to national parks, has decided not to provide support to land owners in their negotiations over compensation, and may reduce royalty charges for over burden. It may reduce bonds for mining start up activity, raising the potential for the public to have to pay the rehabilitation costs of failed mining operations.
“What is especially worrying is the intention to set a framework for the development of ‘next generation’ coal mines in the Latrobe Valley. In an era of climate change, what type of government could be seen to be advancing the prospect of new brown coal mining operations on prime farmland?”
“The response to the EDIC report represents a comprehensive failure by the state government to listen to community concerns about new mining operations. It has opted to use public funds to try and convince the community that CSG operations will be safe, and facilitate mining without providing adequate protection for farmland”.
Cam Walker 0419 338 047
The government’s response is available here: http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/edic/greenfie...