Environment and Water Agriculture | June 28, 2016

Labor leaves ratepayers with legal bill

The Nationals Member for Lowan, Emma Kealy MP is appalled at Labors failure to accept responsibility for a mining planning application, leaving local ratepayers to bear costly legal bills.

“I am extremely disappointed that the Labor Government refused to take on the role of Planning Authority, as previously requested by Council,” Ms Kealy said.

Yesterday the Horsham Rural City Council rejected a planning permission application from mineral sands mining company Iluka Resources.

“Any decision made by Council on this matter sets a precedent for future mineral processing in the state of Victoria. For this reason alone, it should have been a matter dealt with by the State Minister for Planning, Hon. Richard Wynne,” Ms Kealy said.

“I believe that the State Minister for Planning is in a far better position to act as the Planning Authority in this instance and I am at a loss as to why he has shirked his responsibility in relation to this matter,” she said.

“With Iluka Resources now taking immediate steps to challenge the decision in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, Labor has set up Horsham Rural City Council ratepayers to bear the significant costs of this legal process.

“There is no legislative framework in place to regulate the proposed mining activity, and Labor has forced this decision onto Local Government,” she said.

Iluka Resources is a global mining company that has invested over $1 billion into Victoria, engaged up to 200 contractors and directly employs more than 100 people.

“Mining activity creates employment and has made a significant positive impact on the economy in the Lowan electorate,” Ms Kealy said.

Many small businesses have been able to grow and contract workers have expressed appreciation for off farm employment opportunities during difficult times.

“I have also been contacted by a number of constituents who have deep concerns and reservations about the potential environmental risks associated with the disposal of mining by-products.

“Agriculture is the backbone of our local economy, and it is crucial that strong controls are put in place to regulate mining activities to provide essential protection for our local environment including our waterways.

“Labor’s failure to accept what I believe to be a State Government responsibility, has let down ratepayers and could devastate the electorates economy through the loss of important local employment opportunities,” she said.

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