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No mines petition debate date set

Geoff Helisma

The NSW Parliament will debate the Clarence Catchment Alliance’s petition, which requests the cessation of mining “exploration or mining within the Clarence Valley and surrounding local government area”.

Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin lodged the more than 10,000 signature petition, which is due to be debated in the Legislative Assembly (lower house) on Thursday August 5 at 4pm.

Previously, MLC Catherine Cusack was going to lodge the petition with the Legislative Council (upper house), however, alliance coordinator Shea Fleming said that turned out to be “too risky”.

“In the upper house a notice of motion would have to be lodged, which means there is no guarantee it would be debated,” Ms Fleming said.

“A petition can only be lodged with the government once and our ambition was to follow whatever path is required to have that debate as soon as possible.

“It didn’t work with our time frame; we want to keep the momentum going and have it debated while the petition is still fresh.”

Ms Fleming said the government had given “special permission” for a small delegation of CCA members to attend, while the public gallery is closed due to covid restrictions.

“We will be meeting with MPs to discuss our community concerns on the day,” Ms Fleming said.

Meanwhile on its Facebook page, CCA is inviting people to write to the relevant NSW ministers, “to ask politely for their support and share your concerns”.

The alliance has provided a template for like-minded people.

“Please help us secure the healthy future of our local environment, water, society, culture, and economy by writing to some or all of the MPs listed,” the invitation states.

“We need to ramp up momentum at state level in the lead-up to the debate and let them know this community says no to mines in the Clarence Valley.”

At its November 24 meeting, Clarence Valley Council adopted a policy to “oppose mining in the Clarence River catchment” and to “seek the support of both state and federal governments to impose a moratorium on further mining exploration licences and to cancel existing licences”.

Mayor Jim Simmons will represent CVC and attend with the CCA delegation.

“The only thing that might stop me going is the covid outbreak in Sydney,” he said.