Government sells out communities over mining reforms

December 13, 2013

Friends of the Earth media release.

Last night, the Lower House of Parliament passed the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Amendment Bill 2013 (MRSDA).

This Bill is part of the long awaited government response to the EDIC report Inquiry into Greenfields Minerals Exploration and Project Development in Victoria.

Most aspects of the Amendment relate to reforms to the mining approvals process, definitions of activities, rehabilitation bonds, and other administrative matters.

However, it will also make it harder for communities to gain protection of lands from threats posed by mining.

“A number of communities in Gippsland have written to the Minister for Energy and Resources, Mr Kotsiras, asking him to use his powers under the MRSDA to grant exemptions to mining because of the threat posed by coal and gas mining proposals” said Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth campaigns co-ordinator. “The only response from the government has been to make it much harder to gain these exemptions.”

At present, the Minister has the power to grant exemptions from mining for any reason deemed appropriate.

As a result of the amendment, the bill will now:
require the value of known or potential mineral values, as well as social and economic implications, to be taken into account prior to a decision being made to exempt land from being subject to a licence and thereby preclude it from development. This will provide greater consideration of mineral resources before precluding potentially mineral-rich land from future development.

“Many will see this as a direct assault on regional communities. The Coalition – including Nationals MPs – has decided to side with mining interests over community concerns.”

“Community polling over attitudes to mining is showing overwhelming support for the right of communities to declare themselves coal or gas free. The government has turned its back on these concerns by pushing these amendments through.”

The Bill has now been introduced to the Upper House.

Further comment: Cam Walker 0419 338 047