Robertson urges suspension of coal licences

The NSW Opposition Leader, John Robertson, is calling on the state government to suspend coal licences issued by the former Labor minister Ian Macdonald that are the subject of investigations by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

The commission is examining the issuing of licences by Mr Macdonald at Mount Penny and Glendon Brook in the Bylong Valley and Yarrawa and Doyles Creek as part of what it has described as the largest corruption investigation in its history.

It has heard that the family of another former Labor minister, Eddie Obeid, stood to gain as much as $100 million from the issuing of the Bylong Valley licences, and it is due to examine the circumstances surrounding the issuing of the Doyles Creek licence next year.

Last week, following evidence given during public hearings at the ICAC, the Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham called for the Resources and Energy Minister, Chris Hartcher, to consider legislation to suspend the Mount Penny licence.

Mr Buckingham said he would introduce a motion calling on the NSW government to suspend the licence.

Under the Mining Act, a licence may be suspended or terminated if it can be shown it can be proven the licence holder "provided false or misleading information" to the authority that awarded it.

Mr Buckingham said the evidence presented to the commission regarding the Mount Penny licence gave Mr Hartcher "cause to believe that false and misleading information is associated with the licence application".

Mr Robertson wants to go a step further and also suspend Doyles Creek. He has offered bipartisan support for legislation if it is required. He has written to the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, making the offer today.

"We want to make sure that no one can benefit or profit from these licences and the way they have been issued until the ICAC has reached its conclusions," Mr Robertson said.

The story Robertson urges suspension of coal licences first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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