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Motion: Liverpool Plains

Lee Rhiannon 25 Mar 2015

Senator RHIANNON (New South Wales) (15:51): I move:

That the Senate-
(a) notes that:
(i) the Minister for the Environment (Mr Hunt) has referred the Shenhua Watermark coal mine planned for the Liverpool Plains to the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development (IESC) for assessment under the water trigger provisions of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act),
(ii) the Namoi catchment, that includes the Liverpool Plains, is the largest groundwater system in the Murray Darling catchment and the Shenhua project triggered the requirement to consider water impacts of the mine under the EPBC Act,
(iii) the Federal Government has passed legislation in the House of Representatives, including to hand over application of the water trigger, including approval decisions, under the EPBC Act to state and territory governments and local councils, and
(iv) as well as the proposed Shenhua Watermark project two other major mining projects are proposed for the Liverpool Plains-BHP Billiton is planning a coal mine of 500 000 000 tonnes less than 10 km from the Shenhua site, and Santos has a coal seam gas licence to explore for gas across the whole Liverpool Plains floodplain;
(b) calls on the Minister for the Environment to publicly clarify:
(i) if he is requiring That the IESC review assess the cumulative impacts of the project in association with other developments, whether past, present or reasonably foreseeable,
(ii) whether the IESC will carry out the bioregional assessment of the impact of the proposed mine on the Namoi catchment, or whether they will be simply reviewing other work rather than carrying out their own independent work, and
(iii) if the IESC will be required to engage with the Local Land Services to assess the cumulative impacts, or will a desktop assessment of the hydrogeology and geology be all that is required; and
(b) calls on the Minister for the Environment to retain the water trigger at the federal level and abandon its plans to hand it off to state and territory governments.

The PRESIDENT: The question is that the motion be agreed to.

A division having been called and the bells being rung -

Senator MOORE (Queensland) (15:53): Mr President, with your indulgence, we have misjudged our position and we are actually in support of this motion of the Greens.

The PRESIDENT: Do I then gather there is no need for a division? Is that the case? We can terminate a division. Will we stop the bells or will we go ahead? We will let the division stand, and I will put the motion once the doors have been locked.

The PRESIDENT: Lock the doors. I understand that there may be no need for this division. Senator Siewert, did you wish to have the question put again and decided on the voices?

 Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia—Australian Greens Whip) (15:56): Mr President, I do not think your call reflected the will of the chamber, so I ask you to recommit the vote.

The PRESIDENT: I think my call reflected the will of the chamber, but I think senators might not have called it correctly! I will put the question again. The question is that general business notice of motion No. 681, standing in the name of Senator Rhiannon, be agreed to.

Question agreed to.


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