Mining and Petroleum Legislation Amendment Bill 2022

30th March 2022

Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) (18:04): I am pleased to contribute to debate on the Mining and Petroleum Legislation Amendment Bill 2022. While I understand that many members have issues with the bill, overall it is being supported. It will not be contested by the Opposition, but I note that the Opposition will be moving amendments to it. Perhaps it is not contesting the bill because we finally seem to be talking about the reality of change within our local economies, which have been so dependent on coalmining for many years. Areas such as the Central Coast have a long historic involvement in mining. I note that the member for Swansea is in the Chamber. Lake Macquarie has deep underground mines and is not far from the very expansive and significant open-cut mining areas in the upper Hunter Valley.

Mining occurs right around the State, and I do not want to understate the impact and significance of coalmining in areas to the west, to the south and even the historic areas to the north. It is time that we took those matters seriously. The other two Independents—the member for Wagga Wagga and the member for Sydney—and I have been calling for movement from the Government in this area for a significant period. It sounds very self-righteous of me to say that because I know that members of the Opposition and The Greens as well as many members of the Government have also been saying that. It is very pleasing to have the Minister for Regional New South Wales, the Acting Premier, bringing the bill to the House. I am not saying that the bill is perfect, and there are some concerns about it. The Independent members have had good engagement with the Acting Premier on the bill and have sought some amendments, some of which we have agreed to further amend, due to a change in the way we have approached it and accepting the premise that a lot of what we were seeking might be better dealt with in the regulation. But I am very much concerned about making sure that the bill works well.

It is really important that we have the right people in place, not only the expert panel but also the Minister responsible. I do not refer to the current Minister, whose intentions have been made very clear in his contributions and by his actions, but to future Ministers. Areas such as Lake Macquarie are dependent not just on mining but also on the generation of power from much of the coal that has been won over the years, and we have fuelled much of the energy that has driven residential development and industry in New South Wales. It is very important that we get it right, so I foreshadow and have circulated amendments that I will be moving relating to the establishment and operation of expert panels. I do not wish to go too much further in this contribution. While there are problems with the bill, which can be addressed either by this Government or by a subsequent government, the bill is a great start.

I acknowledge the $25 million for the Royalties for Rejuvenation fund, which is so important in giving resilience to communities that have been linked with and dependent on one industry and who will really feel the pain as we shift away from a reliance on coal, for whatever reason. Whether or not people believe in climate change is not really relevant when the market moves anyway. We need to make absolutely sure that we look after the communities that have been looking after our State for many years. I support the bill, along with the proposed amendments to be moved by me and by the member for Sydney.

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