Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr GUTWEIN
Your Resources minister, Guy Barnett, has admitted he unlawfully approved a lease that allowed Chinese state‑owned mining corporation MMG to block public access to public land in takayna. This illegal approval would have stayed in place and would not have come to light if not for the Bob Brown Foundation.
MMG had applied for a permit to mine gravel - clearly never the company's intention - yet your minister approved the lease nonetheless. Is it not true the reason your minister approved the permit was to collude with MMG to prevent people from exercising their democratic right to protest in defence of the Tarkine?
Why is the minister, so apparently casual about his obligations under the law and to act honestly and with integrity, still in your Cabinet?
Mr Speaker, I thank the leader of the Greens and member for Clark, Ms O'Connor, for that question. Another day, another Greens conspiracy. I know you have tried to get mileage out of it and you want to attack that mine at every opportunity and, in doing so, attack the people who work for that mine. That is the position you take and will continue to hold, regardless of what I say or anybody puts on the record regarding the facts.
Regarding the facts, MMG recently made application for a mining lease over an existing access track to its South Marionoak Site under the Mineral Resources Development Act 1995. The application was assessed by Mineral Resources Tasmania, which provided a recommendation, advice, to the minister that he should accept that and sign, which he did. A lodging error in the application was then found by the department and immediate action was taken.
MMG's original application was made under an incorrect section of the act, section 78, and this error was not detected by Mineral Resources Tasmania. MMG subsequently submitted a new lease application under section 106 of the act, which is currently being assessed by MRT. The minister has expressed his disappointment regarding the oversight to the secretary and requested that a comprehensive review of the tenement application and assessment process take place as a result. That is already underway. Based on advice, the act allows for mining lease applications to be made to allow for access purposes. This is not uncommon practice.
The minister was provided with advice and he acted on that advice. A lodging error in the application was then found by the department and immediate action was taken. That is the end of the matter.