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Labor and Coalition Betray Central Coast and Newcastle on Gas Plan Vote

Australian Greens Senator for NSW, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, has said Labor and the Coalition have betrayed the Central Coast and Newcastle Community by voting down a Greens motion calling for genuine community consultation on Asset Energy’s plan to conduct seismic testing for gas.

The motion (below) expressed community concern that Asset Energy and its partners would lodge their environmental plan over the holiday period, restricting genuine community participation. It called on the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority to extend the consultation period to sixty days if a plan is lodged over the holidays.

Senator Faruqi said:

“It is pretty clear that Labor and the Coalition have betrayed the Central Coast and Newcastle communities by voting down this very reasonable request to give the community a genuine say on  this environmentally devastating project.

“Labor says they stand with the community, but every time the issue has come in the Federal Parliament, they buckle and sit with the Liberals and Nationals. The community won’t tolerate politicians who say one thing and then do another.

“The local community is firmly against this proposal and is deeply concerned that the Environmental Plan will be sneakily lodged during the holiday period, denying the time to properly scrutinise it. I cannot fathom how Labor and the Coalition could argue with the premise that the community should be given a fair go to have their say on the plan.

“It is just further evidence of how fossil fuel companies call the shots for Labor and the Coalition while the community is always put last.
“Seismic testing poses a huge risk to marine animals and the environment. The Greens will continue to stand with the community and against the fossil fuel lobby’s offshore drilling proposals which will accelerate the climate crisis.

The Motion

I give notice that on the next day of sitting, I shall move—That the Senate:
1. Notes that:
a.     Asset Energy and their project partners are planning to conduct further seismic testing for gas off the coast of Newcastle and the Central Coast in New South Wales;
b.     The Environmental Plan for the seismic testing is currently being developed and once submitted, the community will have only 28 days to respond to the regulator; 
c.      The community is concerned that the Environmental Plan may be lodged with National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) during the holiday period, limiting opportunities for genuine community consultation and feedback.
2. Calls on NOPSEMA to:
a)     ensure that if any Environmental Plan is exhibited for community consultation during December 2019 or January 2020, that the community consultation period is extended to at least sixty days;
b)    conduct extensive public hearings in the affected communities of the Central Coast, Northern Beaches and Newcastle and to advertise the hearings extensively in local media.

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