DROUGHT-stricken Liverpool Plains farmers are appalled by the “breathtaking hypocrisy” in the NSW government’s decision to renew the exploration licence for the Shenhua coal mine.
While Breeza farmer John Hamparsum is disappointed by the decision, he said farmers had grown accustom “this sort of behaviour from the government, where they say one thing and do another”.
“The minister said the government would not be releasing any other Liverpool Plains land for exploration – if that’s the case, why is he releasing this land?” Mr Hamparsum asked.
“He’s saying we need to protect the Liverpool Plains, then he turns around and renews a licence right in the heart of it.
“We’re right in the middle of a drought, this is the last news we wanted to hear.”
Breeza farmer Andrew Pursehouse, who’s property neighbours the proposed mine, said it would be “people power” that determined the mine, “not politicians or bureaucrats”.
“We’ve been fighting this for 10 years and we are happy to keep fighting,” Mr Pursehouse said.
“We’ve seen the protest that have been happening in the Pilliga and against the Adani mine. If this gets a guernsey from the government, the protests here will be a whole lot worse, with a whole lot of people.”
NSW Shadow Resource Minister Adam Searle says the government had backed Shenhua over farmers at every turn.
“The Berejiklian Government did not have to hand over $262 million for the expired license – but it did,” he said.
“The Berejiklian Government did not have to renew part of the license today – but it did.”
Last year, Labor raised concerns over a statement Shenhua had made to the Hong Kong stock exchange, saying an agreement had already been reached for a partial extension of the lease.
However, Resources Minister Don Harwin and the government strongly denied any deal.
“In the light of this decision, people are entitled to ask the question ‘who was telling the truth?’,” Mr Searle said.