The NSW government's controversial bill to make mine approvals less onerous is now unlikely to be debated this week following vocal criticism from environmental groups.
Parliament was expected to debate the proposed legislation which would limit the ability of planning authorities to consider overseas emissions when examining local mining projects.
The Berejiklian government introduced the draft laws after the Independent Planning Commission in August imposed overseas emissions conditions on its approval of a coal project near Singleton, and after the environment court in 2018 rejected the nearby Rocky Hill mine.
Activists and bushfire victims rallied outside Macquarie Street on Tuesday in the expectation that the bill would be debated.
But a spokeswoman for the government’s leader of the lower house, Andrew Constance, on Tuesday said that was now very unlikely.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Tuesday was asked to comment on federal Greens MP Adam Bandt’s call for the bill to be put on hold given unprecedented bushfires were raging across NSW.
“I would say he should stick to his community, let us get on with the job of protecting the people of NSW, and he should stick to issues regarding his electorate and his state,” she told ABC radio.
The Nature Conservation Council says with Australia facing increasingly severe impacts from drought and bushfire “it is obscene to make a priority of encouraging carbon pollution”.
“A chorus of the usual voices is saying ‘Now is not the time to talk about climate change action’, but now is certainly not the time to legislate inaction on climate change,” council chief executive Chris Gambian said in a statement on Tuesday.
Almost 50 scientists and experts in October signed an open letter urging the state government not to “cave in” to the coal lobby given mines add hundreds of millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere annually.
But Planning Minister Rob Stokes insists the NSW government is committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 and the bill simply provides “procedural certainty”.