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Resources – Helilog Road Mining Lease

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 8 June 2023

Tags: Protest, Mining, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - Minister, can you confirm the charges were dropped? Your predecessor in the role, former resources minister, Mr Barnett, approved an unlawful mining lease over Helilog Road. Have you received any advice from your department on how to avoid this sort of lawbreaking in future by the minister or any minister in your role?

Mr ELLIS - I mentioned just now the importance of making sure that our people can go to work in this state without -

Ms O'CONNOR - Don't pretend it is workers, it's about your donors and corporations.

CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, order.

Mr ELLIS - Give me a break, I have worked at the Rosebery mine. I know many of those people, they are outstanding Tasmanians. The products that they produce there go into building wind farms; they go into supporting key sovereign capability for this country. To describe them -

Ms O'CONNOR - The first thing is, I didn't describe the good people of Rosebery as anything and we are strong supporters of the existing mines on the west coast. If the minister could answer the question: can you confirm and have you had advice from your department on your predecessor's illegal decision to approve a mining lease over Helilog Road which has led to charges being dismissed by the court?

CHAIR - I will ask the minister to be relevant, but I cannot put words in his mouth.

Mr ELLIS - The Tasmanian Government welcomes the Supreme Court's recent decision of validating the granting of a lease over Helilog Road to MMG. Chief Justice Blow rejected all of the applicant's arguments and dismissed the claims. I am aware that the Government has sought an order for costs and this will be considered through the normal process. It is disappointing that the BBF has chosen to appeal the decision; ultimately, that is a matter for them. We will always stand up for workers in this state.

Ms O'CONNOR - Just for clarity, on that matter, of the 24 protesters charged with trespass, 11 were also charged with hindering or obstructing mining operations, but the secondary charge was dismissed. It is a crucial distinction between the two that the dismissal of charges can only be done by a judge and there must be an official file against you in court for it to be eligible for dismissal. You have not confirmed then, but we know it is true and we suspect that is why your predecessor lost his job and you are sitting in that chair now. Your predecessor approved an illegal mining lease over Helilog Road in order to give MMG, a Chinese state-owned company, an unlawful lease over the road to keep protesters out for protecting that beautiful rainforest.

Mr ELLIS - As I mentioned previously, we welcome the Supreme Court's recent decision -

Ms O'CONNOR - Do you welcome your colleague's lawbreaking?

Mr ELLIS - Validating the grant of a lease over Helilog Road to MMG.

Ms O'CONNOR - Do you think it is okay that ministers of the Crown give out unlawful leases?

CHAIR - Order, Ms O'Connor.

The time for budget Estimates for Resources has now expired. I thank the minister and everyone around the table for a pleasant afternoon and I hope you all have a good weekend.