The Clarence Catchment Alliance’s petition, to cease mining and mineral exploration in the Clarence River’s catchment, will be debated in the NSW Legislative Assembly at 4pm on Thursday October 14.
Significantly, on September 13, Kyogle Council unanimously supported “Clarence Valley Council’s (CVC) invitation 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”.
A total of six northern NSW councils have now voiced opposition: Clarence Valley, Coffs Harbour, Kyogle, Glenn Inness, Byron and Bellingen.
Meanwhile, Tenterfield Shire Council voted unanimously to “not support” CVC’s decision, “to oppose mining in the catchment”, and Armidale Regional Council unanimously voted to take no specific action and, instead, “received and noted” CVC’s request.
Lismore MP Janelle Saffin, who submitted the petition to the Legislative Assembly, will be one of the speakers at the debate.
Previously, Ballina-based Member of the Legislative Council Catherine Cusack was going to lodge the petition in the upper house, however, alliance coordinator Shea Fleming said the switch was made to the lower house because, “in the upper house a notice of motion would have to be lodged, which means there is no guarantee it would be debated”.
In a media release titled, Gold, silver, copper & cobalt diggers, be gone, Ms Saffin has acknowledged that mining and mineral exploration is a threat to other river catchments; she is “calling for a blanket ban on mineral mining in the Northern Rivers region to protect water catchments which feed into the Clarence, Richmond and Tweed river systems”.
She said she “wants the NSW Government to agree to a moratorium on mineral mining, revoking all licences for exploration or active mining, and financially compensating affected companies like it did with Shenua’s open-cut coal mine near Gunnedah”.
“[I] stand with thousands of local residents campaigning against a wave of gold, silver copper and cobalt diggers, who have our pristine back country firmly in their sights,” she said.
“I’m proud of my track record of protecting our most precious resource – water – and our traditional industries like farming, fishing and tourism which help to sustain the economic prosperity of our local communities.”
Meanwhile, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis has confirmed he will speak to the petition, however, he will not be supporting it – rather, he will advocate trusting the NSW Government to administer its regulations to protect the environment and economy from any potential disasters.
“The petition throws the baby out with the bathwater,” he said.
“We are going to need those resources if we’re going to transition to a renewable energy future.
“I have faith in the planning system and that the government will do the right thing regarding approving mines, and it will satisfy environmental, ecological and social requirements.
“If every LGA [local government area] said [no mining], we wouldn’t have any mining in Australia, because we’re too precious to have it in our backyard.”