Sunday, 25 November 2012 11:38
Scrapping controversial coal licences that are the focus of a corruption inquiry could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation, NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell said.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is inquiring into the granting of mining exploration licences in the Bylong Valley in central NSW in 2008.
It's probing whether former Labor minister Eddie Obeid stood to benefit from decisions made by then mines minister Ian Macdonald.
Opposition leader John Robertson has called for licences granted during the period in question to be suspended.
But Mr O'Farrell said the government's legal advice was that it doesn't have any power to take action over the licences.
"We've taken internal and external legal advice. We don't have the power at this stage to take any action," the premier told Network Ten's Meet the Press on Sunday.
"So far these are just licenses ... no money's being made out of these yet ... but our advice is clear, we don't have the power to do what John Robertson is asking us to do, which is scrap those leases".
Mr O'Farrell said Labor had already potentially cost the state millions of dollars in granting the licences.
"Scrapping them would open up the state to hundreds of millions of dollars of compensation," he said.
The ICAC inquiry continues on Monday.
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