BHP Olympic Dam inquiry a “complete joke”: Greens

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The inquiry set up by South Australia’s parliament to examine the Olympic Dam agreement with BHP Billiton is a farce, according to the Greens.

Earlier this month the Greens pushed for an inquiry into Olympic Dam, and said the project had great importance for the state and deserved a thorough analysis.

While former Premier Mike Rann attempted to pass the bill quickly the seven minor parties that hold the balance of power in SA’s upper house succeeded in pushing the inquiry.

Two of the seven minor parties are Green MPs.

After their win, SA Greens leader Mark Parnell said the special committee should hear from scientific experts and BHP executives.

But yesterday Parnell released a statement saying the scrutiny was “turning into a farce”.

He said the only witnesses appearing before the committee were “all spruiking the project” and the public and media were barred from the hearings.

“This committee process concocted by the Labor Government and Liberal Opposition is a complete joke,” he said.

“Despite the enormous economic, social and environmental impacts of the deal signed between the Government and the world’s richest resource company, and the huge public interest in the project, the committee is refusing to hear from anyone apart from people who are gung-ho in favour.”

Today the committee will have its only scheduled hearing and the groups invited to present are the Government, BHP, and the Chamber of Mines.

Earlier this month a spokesperson for BHP told The Sydney Morning Herald the company was not opposed to the committee.

They said the company had expected to appear before it and was happy to do so.

BHP says as soon as Parliament approves the Government agreement on Olympic Dam it will start the process of spending up to $1.2 billion.

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