Speech at PAC on Warkworth mine expansion at Bulga

My name is Robin Mosman. I am speaking as the representative of the organisation Grandparents for Generational Equity, on behalf of the future generations of Australians who will be affected by the decision made by this commission on the expansion of the Warkworth open-cut coal mine.

Unfortunately and reprehensibly, in spite of the fact that climate change is the greatest intergenerational issue of the 21st century, the recently published Intergenerational Report made almost no mention of the impacts of the fossil fuel industry on future generations.

However, here in the Hunter Valley, those impacts, both existing and planned, cannot and must not be ignored. The 16 new and expanded open-cut coal mines currently under consideration by the Office of Environment and Heritage represent a remorseless drive for profits by mostly overseas-owned companies, which will leave a legacy of appalling destruction in the Hunter, worse than would have been inflicted by an invading army. In return for all this devastation, there will be a small gain in revenue for NSW.

Grounds for the approval of the Warkworth expansion have only been made possible because, under the new mining SEPP, economic benefits have been elevated above all other considerations, both social and environmental.

As an elder Australian with a long view, both back in time, and to the future, I ask, for the economic benefit of WHOM. There will be some short-term cash for the NSW government in royalties, but the bulk of the profit will go overseas. What future generations of Australians will be left with, is devastated land, the village of Bulga and its community destroyed, and yet another unique remnant piece of our precious natural environment gone forever.

And this in spite of the fact that the Land and Environment Court in 2013, when refusing the expansion of the mine, had found Rio Tinto’s economic modelling deficient in many ways, including its methodology that over-estimated the benefits of the mine.

The new Planning Minister Rob Stokes has publically stated that he might put out a new draft mining SEPP as soon as possible, one which would return to the pre-2013 standard giving equal weight to economic, social and environmental impacts, and that he would expect the Planning Assessment Commission to take it into account when making their decision on this development.

As the Land and Environment Court already made their decision on that basis in 2013, and the NSW Supreme court upheld the decision, it seems very clear what the decision of this Commission should be.

This mine expansion has an expected life of only 20 years, but the Hunter Valley, and the people who live here, and WILL live here in the future, will go on for much longer than that.

What sort of legacy will this generation of decision-makers leave them? In the name of generational equity, they deserve something better than yet another massive open-cut mine.

They deserve to be able to live on here, in an environment that will support them in all the varied ways they might choose to make their livings. They deserve an environment that hasn’t been destroyed just for short-term economic gain, most of which will not even benefit other Australians.

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