NSW Premier Mike Baird has vowed to crack down on illegal mine protesters and halve the time it takes to process major infrastructure proposals.
After the NSW upper house passed the first tranche of Mr Baird’s revamped coal seam gas policy this week, the state government has announced a suite of measures to speed up planning processes for development proposals.
Friday’s announcement prompted green groups to accuse the government of cosying up to miners.
Mr Baird told the NSW Minerals Council on Thursday night that environmental standards and community consultation were necessary but had sometimes cost efficiency.
“The environmental assessments must continue … but a timeframe is a timeframe,” Mr Baird said.
In an address that praised the coal and mining industry, Mr Baird put illegal protesters on notice.
“I respect the rights of protesters to be heard and indeed to protest loudly,” he said.
“(But) if you choose to break the law when you protest, we will throw the book at you.”
Mr Baird said he would appoint a case manager from the Department of Premier and Cabinet to ensure major projects meet deadlines, including mines.
Andrew Stoner, the outgoing former deputy premier and resources minister, said the NSW government had failed to stop a team of “strange bedfellows” opposed to mining.
An alliance between “green ideologues”, farmers, certain media commentators and groups like the `knitting nannas’ have merged to spread a “misinformation scare campaign”, he said.
“I know there are some members of my own party who have wavered in the face of a vocal minority,” he said.