Monday, 10 December 2012 08:11
The NSW opposition has slammed the appointment of a former Liberal Party official and mining company director as chairman of the authority responsible for protecting Sydney's water supplies.
The O'Farrell government has named Mark Bethwaite as one of seven new appointees to the board of the Sydney Catchment Authority, where he is set to become chairman.
Mr Bethwaite is a former federal treasurer of the Liberal Party, a former director of the Minerals Council of Australia and NSW Minerals Council, and has held directorships in mining companies.
Opposition environment spokesman Luke Foley said on Monday that the appointment coincided with coal seam gas company Apex Energy applying for new petroleum exploration licences in sensitive areas of the catchment.
He said Mr Bethwaite was appointed to the board after the government legislated to remove guaranteed board positions for environmental, farming and local council representatives.
"Dr Stephen Corbett, the director of Population Health, Sydney West Area Health Service, has not been reappointed to the board, leaving it without a public health expert for the very first time," he said.
"The appointment to the board of a former Liberal Party official with an extensive background in the mining industry, while leaving it without a public health expert, is an abandonment of the obligation to protect public health."
Mr Foley said four-and-a-half million people relied on water supplied by the authority, which was legally required to promote water quality and protect public health.
"The O'Farrell government has put the poacher in charge of the hen house," Mr Foley said in a statement.
"I fear this new appointment will see mining companies given the green light to drill for coal seam gas in the sensitive special areas of the Sydney Catchment Authority."
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