COAL EXPLORATION IN WOLLOMBI IS A MISTAKE
The inclusion of a new coal exploration area adjacent to Wollombi is outrageous. I have no doubt that the locals will try to fight it off, just as they have in the past with coal seam gas, army bases and a dam. While these fights have strengthened community solidarity, it may not be enough in the face of a new coal mine.
With the area being specifically identified for exploration in the NSW Government's new Strategy Statement on Coal Exploration and Mining, I expect a mine will be very difficult to stop.
The exploration area north from Wollombi to Bulga includes the township of Wollombi - a major tourist attraction due to its historic buildings, scenic native bushland and Indigenous sites. It also includes the Broke district wineries, another significant wine and tourism area.
It is difficult to understand why this area has been deemed "suitable for mining", when there are clear land use conflicts and it is difficult to see how the social and environmental impacts will be managed.
The government's strategy aims to support "diversification of coal-reliant regional economies to assist with the phase-out of thermal coal mining".
In the case of Wollombi/Broke, they're going to introduce mining to an area that has never had it before, destroy the existing tourism-based economy, then phase mining out, then try to rebuild the tourist economy? It simply doesn't make any sense.
Janet Murray, Greens spokesperson for Cessnock
CONCERNS OVER ROAD RECLASSIFICATIONS
I note the announcement last week of the consultation period for the reclassification of 15,000 kilometres of NSW roads. The NSW Opposition has been scrutinising this election promise by the Government since April last year and we do hold some concerns.
Through the Parliament the NSW Opposition has obtained documents showing that the reclassification will take most of this decade, and risks leaving councils $150 million a year worse-off once complete.
It is extremely important that the financial viability of local councils is not impacted by any decision in this process. The government should also be ensuring there will be no job losses as a result of this process.
In my view, the NSW Government has a duty to guarantee local councils will not be financially worse-off because of the reclassification process, and all council workers will keep their jobs.
Mick Veitch MLC, Shadow Minister for Rural Roads
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