After months of considered discussion; after months of study of hundreds of pages of documents supplied by the Sydney Catchment Authority, the people of the Southern Highlands have been told that the Kangaloon Aquifer has been deemed a "Project of State Significance". That means it has been exempted from all normal requirements for environmental assessment, and other precautionary controls.
These normal requirements are intended to subject Government agencies, such as the SCA to scrutiny, and indeed to require these agencies to follow "due process".
The SCA set up the "Upper Nepean Catchment Community Reference Group" (CRG) as part of a process of "community consultation". Well the CRG sent in its considered response. It caned the SCA for not having done enough scientific investigation. It criticised the haste with which the SCA was pushing ahead with test boring (while the supposed "community consultation" was still being pursued).
Drill rig on Tourist Road, 14 October 2006
Obviously the CRG was right on the money. Obviously, these criticisms hurt the SCA and the Iemma Government.
How do we know?
The response of the Government is a classic "bully boy" response - equivalent to saying: "Well, if that what you think - take this." They have effectively slammed the door on the local community. Consultation is over. They don't want to hear another word from us.
"Its all over, folks" - that's what they are saying - "We are going to start pumping, no matter whether or not it harms the environment. Stuff You" - that's what they are really saying.
This is my own "graphic" interpretation of the Iemma Government's response to the people of the Southern Highlands. It does not necessarily represent Government Policy. You make up your own mind.
Does the Iemma Government care about farmers in Kangaloon?
Does the Iemma Government care about the general environment in the Southern Highlands?
Does the Iemma Government care about endangered plants and animals in the Kangaloon Aquifer?
Does the Iemma Government care about YOU - THE VOTER?
Make up your own mind.
You be the judge.
You are, after all, the final judge - as a voter!