Increasingly nervous in the lead up to the NSW election, the Abbott Government has used Labor’s “water trigger” to pause the Shenhua Watermark coal project on the Liverpool plains long enough to protect the Baird Government from the public outcry on this contentious project.

Labors “water trigger” allows the Commonwealth Minister to “stop the clock” on a project under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999 if there is a threat to the water supply.

The Abbott Government is relying on the “water trigger” to hold off the decision on Shenhua until after the NSW election, this is the very same  “water trigger” the Abbott Government voted against in 2013.

The Shenhua mine proposal has raised legitimate concerns about the natural water resources which supply some of the richest and most productive farming land in the country.  It is vital that the conflict of the State income potential of a large mine not be allowed to influence the protection of this valuable farming land.

Tony Abbott must do more than pause this project, he must also commit to dropping his plans to devolve decision making power on Matters of National Environmental Significance, including the “water trigger” to State Governments. It is essential that the decision making power regarding the impact of large mines on our water resources remain with the Commonwealth Government.


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