Residents, farmers, environmentalists, and community groups rallied outside the NSW Supreme Court next Wednesday 14th August, to oppose draconian new amendments to NSW mining regulations, and to support the people of Bulga, in the Hunter Valley, as they battle to save their town from open cut coal mining.

The O’Farrell Government has joined global mining giant Rio Tinto in a Supreme Court action to force an unwanted open cut coal mine onto the residents of Bulga. The Warkworth Extension mine proposal was previously rejected by a NSW court, due to the unacceptable impacts it would have on public health, threatened bushland, and the ongoing viability of the village of Bulga. The court found that the impacts of the proposed mine far outweighed the economic benefits promised by the mining company. But Rio Tinto and the NSW Government have refused to accept the umpire’s decision, and are now dragging the Bulga residents’ group into the Supreme Court to get their way.

The O’Farrell Govt has responded to the Bulga residents’ previous court victory by proposing draconian new mining regulations that would prevent any court from making the same decision again. A proposed amendment to the NSW Mining SEPP (State Environmental Planning Policy) would make it a legal requirement for all approval authorities to prioritise development of “significant resources” of coal over other considerations, such as protecting land and water resources, safeguarding human health, and protecting biodiversity. The proposed SEPP amendment would have far-reaching consequences for any community or industry attempting to protect itself from coal mining. It must be stopped.

These moves by the O’Farrell Government and Rio Tinto are new low points in a widespread campaign of bullying and intimidation by Big Coal against communities. Across NSW, people are tired of being bullied. Mining companies routinely lie to landholders, intimidate communities, and threaten legal action against anyone who would hinder or speak out against them. Coal companies have shown they will do anything to get their way, and the O’Farrell Government has shown they will do anything to help them, including changing the law, and taking local residents groups to court.

Barry O’Farrell was elected to power after promising to restore some balance between the public interest and the coal lobby’s interests. “No ifs, no buts – a guarantee”, he said. That promise is now in tatters. The O’Farrell Government is doing the exact opposite of what it promised. It is behaving like the hired goon of the mining industry.

It’s time to stand up against the bullies. Join the rally outside the NSW Supreme Court as the Bulga case begins – 9am Wednesday 14th August.

For more information contact Steve Phillips, Hunter regional coordinator for Lock The