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BOTH my staff and I have met with landholders, industry representatives and a range of community groups such as the North West Alliance on many occasions and I have heard a wide range of opinion on the Santos Narrabri Gas Project.
The message I have most often heard is that people are not opposed to mining activity as long as it is done in a safe and sustainable way that will not damage the area’s water resources.
What this government and the North West Alliance has in common is that we are both committed to protecting the State’s precious water resources. I am very proud to say that no government has done more to protect our water resources and to ensure resource development does not have a detrimental effect on water systems. The Minister for Resources and Energy and I have been working very closely together to put in place the strictest and most transparent regulations to monitor and protect our water resources.
Many people understand that the Narrabri Gas Project has the potential to drive development and job creation in the region, should it satisfy the tough safety requirements introduced by the NSW Government.
If these stringent safety requirements are met, the project will see Narrabri play an extremely important role in meeting the state’s energy demands and will provide an enormous social and economic boost to the region, however if those standards are not met the project will not proceed.
What has become increasingly clear throughout this process is that Labor and the Greens are particularly out of touch with regional communities and are prepared to destroy job and economic growth in electorates such as mine to score a cheap political point.
Let me be clear: the Greens and Labor’s opposition to job and economic growth in regional NSW is based on ideology, not fact and is focused as much at agriculture as it is the resources sector.
What the Greens fail to mention in their sermons to landholders is that they were essentially in government with Labor when the former Labor Government was handing out mining licences to their mates with no independent scientific assessment and public scrutiny. We have put an end to the former government’s culture of applying no checks and balances to the mining industry, a culture which was so readily endorsed by the Greens.
We have ensured that the highest environmental standards possible must be met, and that landholders have a say in what happens on their land. This is in stark contrast to the Greens who want to dictate to farmers about what is best for them based on the views of their small constituency in inner-city Sydney. This is evident not just in regards to resource development, from native vegetation management right through to the live trade export.
The Greens suffered an enormous collapse in their vote in Western NSW at the last State and federal elections because of their raft of policies which promote their small base in inner-city Sydney and condemn regional NSW.
For years the Greens have been advocating shutting down regional industries and taking away the water rights of communities, landholders and irrigators to appease their Sydney-based constituency, and it is disappointing to see that Greens like Jeremy Buckingham are so prepared to sell out regional NSW to pander to voters in inner-city Sydney.