'The cowboys were in control': Foley attacks former colleagues
"Once Carr departed, the then-dominant clique inside the government went out of its way to repudiate Labor's environmental agenda" ... Luke Foley. Photo: Dean Osland
NSW Labor MP and leading light of the left, Luke Foley, has savaged his former colleagues for showing "shameless contempt" for environmental protection and probity in coal mining and property development approvals.
Mr Foley said the "cowboys were in control" after the departure of the former Premier Bob Carr, when the NSW Labor government declared itself "open for business".
Speaking ahead of his launch of Fairfax Media journalist Paddy Manning's book on the coal seam gas industry, What the Frack?, Mr Foley said the state Labor government went out its way to repudiate the environmental protection agenda of the Bill McKell, Neville Wran and Carr Labor governments.
"The cowboys were in control," Mr Foley said. "They were shameless in their approach to questions of planning and natural resources management.
"They essentially were for letting it rip whether it be coal, coal seam gas or property development."
Mr Foley said the disgraced former mineral resources minister Ian MacDonald had "sneering contempt" for community concern over mining and development and accused him of trying to turn Labor into a party for property developers, gas and coal miners.
He said the Wran government gave NSW the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 which embraced economic, social and ecological considerations in planning decisions.
"Once Carr departed, the then-dominant clique inside the government went out of its way to repudiate Labor's environmental agenda," Mr Foley said.
"The actions of those who sought to turn the Labor government into the political wing of the property development industry and of the coal and coal seam gas companies were an insult to the memory of previous NSW Labor governments."
The attack follows the mea culpa and push by Labor statesman, senator John Faulkner, to distance the party from what he described as the “disgraceful conduct and arrogantly corrupt behaviour” of some members.
This week, the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption will continue its hearings into alleged corruption in the former Labor government's dealings with coal exploration licences.
Mining magnates including John Kinghorn and other investors in Cascade Coal Pty Ltd are among those expected to give evidence in relation to the actual and potential financial benefit the company and its investors gained.