Hundreds of people rallied in Newcastle yesterday to show their support for the region’s mining industry.
The Minerals Council of NSW said several hundred miners, their families, small business owners and workers gathered at Civic Park in Newcastle at midday to show their support for mining.
“Mining enjoys strong community support in the Hunter, and there is widespread understanding of the importance of the industry to the region,” the council’s CEO Stephen Galilee said.
“The event was a positive display of that public support from hundreds of people who rely on mining for their job or their business.”
The rally took place as NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes was in Newcastle to address a Hunter Business Chamber mining lunch on proposed changes to the NSW planning system.
The changes will see the removal of a rule which stipulates the economic benefits of a proposed coal mine must be the principal consideration when assessing for approval.
Introduced only two years ago, the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) change was criticised for shifting the balance of planning assessments in favour of the mining industry over environmental and social factors.
The changes proposed by Stokes means the environmental, social and economic impacts of any mining development must be all considered on an even keel.
Galilee says the move was “a retrograde step that will hurt NSW”.
“The Planning Minister is putting Hunter jobs at risk by rushing through rule changes that will remove the requirement for regional and statewide economic factors to be considered in the assessment of mining projects,” Galilee said.
“This would mean the economic benefits mining brings to the Hunter region, including mining jobs and the opportunities for small businesses, would no longer be required to be considered when mining projects are assessed.”
“The planning system cannot be seen as fair and balanced unless these regional and statewide economic benefits remain an explicit factor in the planning assessment process.”