Apparently ‘false and misleading’ depends on who you are. Based on the Government’s most recent actions it seems information is only ‘false and misleading’ if it’s provided by someone acting in the public interest to protect the climate – not if it’s provided by a coal mining company with a vested interest in getting an approval.
Yesterday I received documents about the Maules Creek coal mine offsets, after the Order for Production of Documents I moved in the Senate last month passed. This package included the long awaited ‘independent’ review of Whitehaven Coal’s proposed offset, albeit commissioned and paid for by Whitehaven Coal.
The documents reveal that in fact the offsets originally proposed are not sufficient to offset the environmental damage which the mine will cause, including the clearing of endangered box gum woodland. Several other additional areas are required to be protected in order to compensate for the damage caused at the mine site.
To me, this was an admission that the original application with its assertion that adequate offsets had been obtained was false or misleading. That was what the Department had, to its credit, been investigating for the past 12 months.
Yet Ministerial correspondence accompanying the documents shows that in fact the Abbott Government has taken the opposite interpretation, decided that everything is fine, and have called off the investigation.
So, I come to the conclusion – it’s one rule for the mining companies, and another for environmental activists. Jonathan Moylan is facing 10 years in jail for a fake press release that caused only a temporary dip in Whitehaven’s share price. Whitehaven mistook or misled the government about the adequacy of its replacement of endangered woodlands, and they get the green light to trash the place.
What message is this government sending the big end of town, when a company that has made a mockery of our national environmental protection laws is being let off scot-free?
The Maules Creek approval is a complete farce and should never have been granted under our national environment law.
Whitehaven Coal should be prosecuted for providing the government with false information in order to get approval for its environmentally disastrous mine at Maules Creek.
Australians expect that the impacts of mega coal mines will be properly scrutinised but with the Government putting the big mining companies first, it’s being left to the community to point out the flaws in this shameful excuse for environmental protection.
The old parties need to stop ticking and flicking massive environmental damage for the big mining companies.
You can watch Senator Waters’ media comments about Maules Creek on Fairfax TV at 7.30mins.