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Brooks Evasive on Shree Minerals, EPA Decision

24 May 2016

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for MINING, Mr BROOKS

[10.28 a.m.]

When you were in opposition you were to loudest cheerleader for Shree Minerals.  You talked them up as the saviour of the north-west coast and the mine as a jobs bonanza.  What is your response to evidence that the company is in breach of its permit and has left 80 000 cubic metres of acid-producing waste on the banks of the Nelson River?  What role did you play in the Environment Protection Authority's sudden decision, late last Friday, not to take action against Shree for breaching its environmental permit but to work with the company to prepare a new permit?  Are you prepared to state in this House that neither you nor any member of your office or any staff member in government gave any direction or indication to the EPA that it needed to give this discredited mining company, which is on the brink of financial collapse, yet another chance?

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  I warn the minister for Police and the member for Denison.

Mr BROOKS - Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question.  I am not surprised by it.  What we are seeing here is a demand from the Greens to close down a mine. 

Shree Minerals operates the Nelson Bay River iron ore mine in Circular Head.  It is currently in care and maintenance.  As has been on the public record already, there were issues with the Nelson Bay River mine with regard to the storage of waste rock.  In November 2013, the EPA sought to manage this by issuing an EPN.  Unfortunately, that was challenged and it was subsequently ruled invalid.

My understanding is that Shree is working with the EPA on a resolution, and that will continue.  There is no better supporter of mining in Tasmania than a majority Hodgman Liberal Government.  What we have here is a continued attack on a key industry,

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker.  Under standing order 182, the minister is digressing from the subject matter: did he or any member of his office or Government make any contact with the EPA?

Madam SPEAKER - I do not uphold the point of order.  There were numerous questions contained in that question, which gives the minister latitude.  He is still on the topic.  The minister will resume.

Mr BROOKS - This is a continued attack on jobs in regional Tasmania and the north-west coast.  We all know the Greens and their front groups, the so-called Tarkine National Coalition -

Ms O'Connor interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  I have already warned the member twice.

Mr BROOKS - Scott Jordan and Green front groups he leads will pull any stunt they can to stop mining in Tasmania.  This Government will not bow down -

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker.  Again, the minister is digressing from the subject matter, which is about political interference in the independent EPA.

Madam SPEAKER - How many times do I have to explain to members that if they would like a minister to answer a specific question, then they should ask only one question with no lead-up to a question.  It is a longstanding precedent of this House that as soon as members deviate from that, the minister is given latitude because a lot of latitude is given in the asking of questions - even the fact that you do not address your questions through the Chair.  Unless we want to go back to the system where there is only one question asked, the minister will be given latitude.  The minister will resume.

Mr BROOKS - I know they are sensitive about this because they know it is true.  They want every mine in Tasmania shut down.  They will not support new mining operations.  They will not stand up for the mining sector.  This Government will.  We believe in a balance and in appropriate investment.  We will not shut down appropriate mining investment in Tasmania that we saw in an attack on forestry under the Green-Labor disaster last term. 

Greens members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  I call on the next question because the members are not interested in listening to it.

Ms O'Connor interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  I suggest the member for Denison sits there in silence because she has already had two warnings and I am fast running out of patience.