Letters to the Editor

HUNTER GAS PIPELINE

Landholders in our area have recently received a letter from the proponent of the Hunter Gas Pipeline.

For many this would have been the first contact they have had from this company, and some may not have even heard of this project. You may wonder why you have not heard about this project before. Under the approval conditions for this project the proponent is required to contact all landholders in the 200 metre corridor. Up until this week they have not done so - that's 13 years. Those landholders who they did contact overwhelmingly objected to the project on their property.

I am Meg Bowman, President of the Hunter Gas Landholder Rights Alliance Incorporated. We are a group of landholders who are opposed to the pipeline. Our activities include contacting landholders, politicians and media.

We know that the project gained a 10 year approval in 2009 for a 200 metre survey corridor to assess a route for a gas pipeline from Wallumbilla in Queensland to Newcastle. In 2019 a five year extension for this approval was granted. The extension was based on there being no material change to the project, but we know that there have been significant changes, including to land use, since the first approval was granted. The department did not look into any of these - it is not in their procedure to do so. When the proponent applied for an extension to their approval they advertised the application in some local newspapers and were required to display the documents in a public area, usually local government buildings. This did not happen in all LGA's. Regardless, appropriate notification of the extension application could have been sent to all landholders in the 200 metre survey corridor, not just advertised in newspapers. This is the 21st century; we have databases, mail merge and email. The government knew of the vast opposition from landholders and should have insisted that landholders be notified individually.

I believe an inquiry needs to be held into how this project got an extension to its approval and into the lack of communication to let impacted landholders know. So much has changed since the original application was submitted in 2008 it is mystifying how the extension was granted based on there being no changes in all of that time. The original reasons for this project being approved seem light years away from today's reality, let alone using the same reasons to gain an extension in 2019. We need answers to the above questions and to lay bare all of the landholder concerns. It is time the government took these concerns seriously.

If you would like more information from our group please email us. I look forward to hearing from you.

Meg Bowman, President - Hunter Gas Landholder Rights Alliance Incorporated

hglralliance@gmail.com

RESIGNATION OF JOHN BARILARO

John Barilaro has served the people of Monaro and the state of NSW with distinction from the moment he was elected as the Member for Monaro in March 2011. As Deputy Premier, he will be remembered for his passionate and fierce advocacy for the people of regional NSW. John has been the NSW Government's 'Mr Fix-it.' Through drought, bushfires, and now COVID-19, the government has called on John to lead the recovery. John was the champion of the Department of Regional Development, the Regional Growth Fund, and delivering a clear vision of the future for workers in the coal and gas industries. He has delivered significant infrastructure and services in regional NSW. As our State comes out of lockdown and transitions back to a semi-normal life, every person in NSW should think of the architect of the roadmap, John Barilaro. His leadership of the NSW Nationals meant a return to government at the 2019 State election, and an historic victory in the Upper Hunter by-election. In his own seat, John managed to deliver a significant swing to The NSW Nationals in an election with a Statewide swing against the government - such is a testament to his local advocacy.

Andrew Fraser - NSW Nationals Chairman