David Ipp, QC accuses NSW Government of ‘elaborate Clayton’s’ mining licence procedures

By , 25/04/2020 19:36

Former ICAC boss says NSW mining licence process still a corruption risk Warning: Former Independent Commission Against Corruption boss David Ipp, QC says the NSW Government has an elaborate “Clayton’s process” for mining licence approvals.

Complicated: Resources Minister Don Harwin said the Ridgelands Resources renewal application, while under investigation for a breaching its licence, was complicated.

Court action: Muswellbrook mayor Martin Rush called for an inquiry into the NSW Government’s handling of the Ridgelands Resources case.

Cahoots: Former Muswellbrook councillor Christine Phelps and husband Ray at Wybong. She said the Ridgelands case was “the NSW Government and the mining industry in cahoots again to shaft the community”.

Referral: Resources Regulator Lee Shearer. The Ridgelands case was referred to the regulator in August. The unpaid $5 million community fund only came to light after action by Muswellbrook Shire Council.

TweetFacebookWhen a government goes to the trouble of creating an elaborate procedure for the granting of mining tenements and doesn’t respect its own laws it’s a recipe for corruption.

Former ICAC boss David Ipp, QC.I have no intention of making a decision on the renewal of the licence until I have seen the full report.

NSW Resources Minister Don Harwin

“I have no intention of making a decision on the renewal of the licence until I have seen the full report,” Mr Harwin said.

Lock the Gate spokesperson Steve Phillips said coal exploration reforms in 2017 “were supposed to fix the dodgy processes exposed by the ICAC”.

While the reforms were welcomed, they did not apply to extensions or renewals of old exploration leases, Mr Phillips said.

“That’s a big loophole, and it needs to be closed. Here in the Hunter, most exploration lease developments are extensions or renewals of old leases that were granted under the dodgy old system. There’s no transparency, no accountability andno public consultation about these leases,” he said.

“We call on the NSW Government to close this gaping loophole in the new guidelines. There are sundry exploration leases in the Hunter that should never have been granted, and these leases should not be renewed and expanded indefinitely without proper assessment and consultation.

“Otherwisethe high risk of corruption and poor planning,which ICAC exposed,remains present.”

NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge said the planning and exploration approvals process in the Hunter was a farce.

“Despite ICAC pointing out the corruption risk caused by unregulated discretions and the absence of clear procedures, this government has done nothing for five years,” Mr Shoebridge said.

“There is nothing to stop renewals being granted to dodgy multinationals, nothing to ensure taxpayers get value for money and it’s impossible to see how any environmental concerns ever get a look in.”

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