Amendments - Mining and Petroleum Legislation Amendment Bill 2022

30th March 2022

I am broadly supportive of the bill, as I expressed earlier, but following consultation with a number of external groups who have been very concerned about some of these issues, I propose minor adjustments to elements around the framework of the expert panels. I turn firstly to amendment No. 1, which relates to page 24 of the bill. The amendment will insert a new line in new section 292W (5) (a). The amendment simply requires the Minister to consider advice and recommendations of the expert panel. Currently, the bill states that such advice would be considered by the Minister only if the Minister requests it. Clearly, the Minister should and must consider any expert advice from the panel. It should not be optional. Many may ask why have a panel at all if the Minister is not required to consider its advice. Of course, we are talking only about consideration. That does not mean any slavish acceptance of it, if there is a reason not to accept it.

Amendment No. 2 relates to the way in which the expert panels are established and provides some surety to communities that are affected by mining and, in particular, by the rapid transition away from coal-fired energy. I accept the advice I have received from the Minister, who is the Deputy Premier, and senior agency staff that the regulations spell out areas where panels may be established. But I believe the legislation needs to reflect that intention so that affected communities have the certainty that they will be included in the process and will have a role in determining where royalties go and for what purpose. Paragraph 1A of the amendment simply inserts that the Minister must establish a panel for each affected coalmining region within the meaning of proposed section 292W. The second part, paragraph 1B, removes any ambiguity. It spells out that paragraph 1A of the amendment does not prevent the Minister from establishing an expert panel in any other part of the State.

These are straightforward amendments that simply ensure that the Minister establishes panels in the areas where they are needed, and actually receives and considers any advice or recommendations provided by the panels. I applaud the intention of the bill. I thank the Deputy Premier for what seems broadly to be a good bill but one that can be improved by amendment. I welcome programs in areas such as Lake Macquarie and the Hunter, which will be impacted heavily by the transition away from coal, particularly in the New South Wales energy market. I commend the amendments to the House.

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