HUNTER VALLEY COAL EXPLORATION LICENCE
Mr JOHN TURNER:
My question is directed to the Premier. Given that the Minister for Primary Industries granted an exploration licence for a training mine for the Hunter Valley at the bargain basement price of $1.2 million and his Labor mate John Maitland stands to gain more than $10 million from the project, will the Premier now hold an independent inquiry into the granting of the licence?
Ms KRISTINA KENEALLY:
This initiative is a practical measure to ensure the safety of workers in the mining industry. I am advised that it will provide much-needed training and employment opportunities. I am advised that workplace safety is an important part of this project. It is too important to play political games with and I defy anyone to say that an initiative aimed at saving lives is a bad thing. The proposal underpinning the licence application has community backing and support from both sides of politics, including people such as former Liberal Party Minister Milton Morris, AO. I understand other backers include the Westpac rescue helicopter, the University of Newcastle, the Hunter Valley Training Company, the Retired Mineworkers Association and the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
The exploration licence is not an approval to develop a mine. The company will need to seek approval through the State's comprehensive planning approvals process. The licences are subject to strict conditions, including those of the landholder liaison program, environmental safeguards and a clause committing the company to establish the training mine. I repeat: This is an important initiative supported by both sides of politics that will help New South Wales miners directly.