A new set of criteria for mining approvals in NSW will get a workout as a result of several Shenhua directors who are being investigated for corruption in China.
Shenhua’s Watermark coal project on the Liverpool Plains was granted conditional approval last month, however since then the former vice-president of Shenhua and three other executives have been accused of acting corruptly.
Now the NSW Farmers Federation is calling for the rejection of mining licence approvals based on the ‘fit and proper person’ test.
The test was introduced to the NSW Mining Act in December as a result of Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigations into former mining minister Ian McDonald and disgraced businessman Eddie Obeid.
Shenhua has not yet submitted its mining licence application, and the state government has said that when it is received it will be will be assessed in line with state legislation, includinmg
NSW Farmers Federation director Fiona Simpson told 7:30 Report she had written to the state government to apply the ‘fit and proper person’ test.
"The [NSW] Government brought in the fit and proper person test to clean up the exploration and mining licence area," she said.
"If they're serious about this, then they can't sign the mining licence with such questions about Shenhua."
Law Society of NSW solicitor Pauline Wright said the Shenhua mining application would be one of the first times the ‘fit and proper person’ test is exercised.
"What it's designed to do it to make sure that the people who are actually going to be given licences aren't people who are likely to accept bribes, make bribes, or behave in a way that's unconscionable, dishonest, corrupt, criminal — so we can trust the people who are operating mines in our country," she said.
"The State Government thought it was time they introduced something fairly robust into the Act really to address the concerns that were made out of those ICAC findings so they brought in this new test."
Wright also said that allegations alone would more difficult to prove, and that certainty would be provided by findings in court, whether in Australia or overseas.
Shenhua admitted in June that former vice-president Hao Gui was being “investigated by competent judicial authorities” which mean he was “unable to properly perform his duties”.
Former vice chief executive Hua Zequiao was accused of taking large sums of money from unscrupulous businessmen.
Former chairman of Shenhua Ningxia Coal Group faces allegations of receiving bribes from contractors, some in the form of a donation to his family temple.
Shenhua Ningxia Coal Group chief engineer of safety Liu Baolong has also been under investigation for allegations of extorting money from contractors working on a coal fire extinguishing project.
Six other managers from Shenhua Ningxia Coal Group’s subsidiaries have been jailed for accepting bribes.