MERC NEWSLETTER – 22nd December 2017


Delegates, here is the December 2017 Newsletter with a new name but no logo as yet,  however it has a lot of important information in it for you to read, please circulate this to your fellow councillors and senior staff, so they can appreciate and understand the excellent work the Association and you are doing on behalf of your council and community, with regard to mining and energy related matters. It is basically an update on the decisions made at the November meeting with Christmas wishes after a long but progressive year for the Association.

Hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a very prosperous and Happy New Year!!!!

Next Meetings in Sydney 22/23rd February 2018

The February Ordinary meeting will be at NSW Parliament House, Jubilee Room, anticipated to commence from 9.00am on 23rd February 2018, sponsored by the Hon Rick Colless, Member Legislative Council, Parliamentary Secretary for Natural Resources and Western NSW. He is also the Chair Western Mining Taskforce after their recent meeting in the west on 17th November 2017 his address will update delegates where the Western Mining Taskforce is up to now they have reformed.

Delegates will need to be there sufficiently early to enable screening to occur. The meeting will be preceded by a Special General Meeting to adopt the Association’s Strategic Plan for 2017 – 2020 with the Executive Committee to meet the afternoon before at 1.00pm, hopefully it will also be at Parliament House as well, waiting on confirmation. In addition to Rick Colless, the Minister for Energy and Resources, the Hon Don Harwin looks likely to be a speaker on 23rd February 2017 along with Department Planning and Environment senior staff and/or other invited speakers on relevant topics, waiting on confirmation.

Update on the Voluntary Planning Agreement Working Party (VPAWP)

A meeting was held in Sydney on 15th December 2017 with M/s Alison Frame, M/s Felicity Greenway and Mr Stephen Barry from Department Planning and Environment and our own Chair Clr Peter Shinton, Clr Owen Hasler and the Executive Officer, to discuss progress with the Joint VPAWP. Delegates provided the senior staff of the DPE with an informative update outlining areas that were agreed and not agreed by the parties in the Joint VPAWP and the arguments to them.

The DPE are keen to capture the information agreed by the respective parties and include it in the Guidelines on VPA’S as a Practice Note, but needed to think about how they were going to deal with the task given the opposed arguments and political sensitivities. Would consider two separate close out reports as an option and get back to the Association in the New Year and what they would like to do with this given parties have invested a considerable amount of time and money.

Regional Independent Assessment Panel (RIAP) & Resources for Regions

The NSW Government will be calling for more applications for Resources for Regions round two in 2018, given the recent announcements and promotions by the State Government and Minister Barilaro. The Office of Regional Development has announced who received the first Stronger Country Communities project grants and details of the Regional Growth Fund with the various programs and eligibility criteria are out. Go to or call 1300679673 for details. A few member Councils were successful. Get your grant officers onto these straight away and urge them to follow the Guidelines strictly. “‘Maybe” projects will not get funded!


The Executive Officer has been talking with various proponents for the webpage re design, if your Council has an IT department that would be interested in talking with the Executive Officer about the project, please encourage them to do so.

Financials forwarded to Department Fair Trading (DFT)

The Executive Officer has lodged the 2016/2017 Financials with the DFT, fees have been paid and the signed financials have been forwarded to Roberts and Morrow, who recently reported that the Association had no issues and was operating satisfactorily.

Review of Strategic Framework (Plan) 2017 – 2020

The Draft Strategic Plan 2017 – 2020 will be presented to the Special General Meeting in Sydney on 23rd February 2018. The name of the Association has changed to ”Association of Mining and Energy Related Councils (NSW) Incorporated” (MERC) and the document will be re formatted and hopefully a new logo can be adopted on 23rd February 2018 to accompany the plan. Department of Fair Trading has registered our new name and provided a new certificate of Incorporation.

Wollongong City Council Marketing department are providing a quote for the design of a new logo for the Executive Officer to consider after discussions with Clr Connor and Ron Zwicker to compliment the Strategic direction and name change of the Association. This will be presented to the Special General Meeting on 23rd February 2017.

Constitution Review

Changes to the Constitution for name changes, details in clauses therein relating to “mining and energy related” matters and minor typographicals were adopted in readiness for the Strategic Plan 2017 – 2020 on 17th November 2017. The Association has also resolved that a Treasurer function was not warranted at this stage. It was further agreed that the amended constitution will be document controlled.

With the legal interpretation on proposed changes to Clause 4.6 Representation received from Zucker Legal, this Clause was changed to reflect the roles on delegates and the requirement to follow the Model Code of Conduct for NSW Local Government. Previously, the constitution said a delegate cannot be nominated by a member council if he/she has any association, commercial agreement or contract with a mining company. It now will read:

Any delegate appointed, will be bound by the model Code of Conduct for Local Government in NSW”

It was also agreed that Clause 14.6. in the Constitution is re worded to improve the clarity, the inclusion of only the preferentail voting system to be used for the election of the Executive Committee, plus resumes can be submitted with a nomination for any position which must be seconded by the time of the election. All to be part of the Association’s Election Policy statement.

These changes to the constitution have been submitted to the Department of Fair Trading and annual fees paid. When the constitution is retyped to reflect all the changes and has been approved by the DFT, it will be placed on the website.

Next Meetings of Association for 2018

The Association has its next meeting in Sydney at Parliament House on 23rd February 2018 with the August date yet to be confirmed but we will work around the Country Mayors dates and try for the same venue when in Sydney in future. As far as the regions go, the following was resolved on 17th November 2017, this will assist the membership campaign as well, so it has been repeated in the Newsletter:

  • May 2018 – Cobar Shire Council to host a regional meeting of the Association to showcase the solar farming in their Local Government Area, as a renewable energy source, and invite the Orana Regional Organisation of Councils (OROC) non – members of the Association, who are potential members of the Association, to attend and also show case their solar farming activities – date to be set by Executive Committee in conjunction with Cobar Shire Council;
  • November 2018 – Upper Lachlan Shire Council to host a regional meeting of the Association to showcase the wind farming in their Local Government Area, as a renewable energy source, and also invite those councils who are currently non – members, with wind farming projects in the region, to attend the meeting and showcase their projects – date to be set by Executive Committee in conjunction with Upper Lachlan Shire Council.

The Executive have been looking at dates for Cobar and it is likely that 3/4th May 2018 are looking good, more in the New Year.

Membership Campaign

After a passionate presentation by the Executive Officer on 14th November 2017, Forbes Shire Council has joined the Association and paid their fees already, such is their keenness -I think the new General Manager may have had a lot to do with it as has the need for them to work with a new miner in the area and neighbours who are already members of our Association for a three Council VPA. A big thank you to all who assisted. The delegates will be the new General Manager, Mr Steve Laone and Clr Phyllis Miller, a member of LGNSW board and experienced councillor.

As well, Dubbo have agreed to join the Association subject to fees being due when the miner commences construction in 2018. This request will be considered by the Executive Committee on 22nd Febraury 2018, when more details are to hand, however it is a positive move by this innovative Central Western Regional Council.

This success is unfortunately overshadowed by the withdrawal of Lithgow City Council from the Association. Fees for 2017/18 haveen be paid. Fit for the Future, delegate apathy or politics? It is important that delegates keep their colleagues informed on activities of the Association and it difficult when they don’t attend meetings to do this.

In discussions with prominent people in the industry, the critical point of difference and selling points of our Association are that the Association is specific on its issues, has seen there is a need to be the voice for renewable energy for Councils, is not hampered by getting involved with broader whole of state matters, has a seat at the table, its advice is sought by the government, we have experienced delegates on government working groups representing the members voices, we are not political and don’t have any collaborative problems within our group of dedicated delegates! Why wouldn’t a Council join or or why would they leave, you have to ask the question are they truly representing their constituents under the Local Government Act when mining and renewable energy issues are affecting their communities, are the legislated processes adequate to do this?

Subsidence Advisory NSW

Councillor Dan Thompson, Singleton Council has stood down from the Mines Subsidence Board (now Subsidence Advisory NSW) and has been replaced by Councillor Melanie Dagg, Cessnock City Council. Clr Thompson requested the support from members for motions submitted by Singleton Council at the LGNSW Conference held 5/6th December 2017 in relation to changes to the way the mines subsidence issues & fund will be managed in future. The conference supported Singleton’s motion over whelmingly! On behalf of the Association and Singleton Council, thank you for the support form members and their colleagues.

Related Matters of Interest – DPE Documents on Exhibition

The Association received an update from Clr Owen Hasler, Association delegate to the Regional Advisory Forum on several papers that DPE has on exhibition for submissions to be made on behalf of delegates and resolved as follows:

  • That the Association prepare a submission on the Voluntary Land Acquisition and Mitigation Policy now on exhibition until February 2018 and write to member councils suggesting they make a submission on it, if they had not already done so;
  • That the Association review the amendments to the Environment & Assessment Act 1979 and the Executive Officer and/or consultant prepare a report to delegates on any implications;
  • That the Association invite Felicity Greenway (Executive Director Resources and Industry) and/or Katharine Hole (Renewable Energy and Related Policies – DPE) to address delegates on DPE Renewable Energy Guidelines;
  • That the Executive Officer and consultant examine Lisa Corbyn’s Independent Review Assessment Report and prepare a submission on behalf of the Association.

Consequently, if any member council is undertaking a review of any of the above in (a) – (d) as part of a decision or role of staff, can you please contact the Executive Officer. There are active staff members of the Association such as several General Managers that attend our meetings and staff that are in planning roles with the knowledge and expertise to assist or provide feedback or guidance to the Executive Officer in addressing the above. Your input will be welcomed.

Discussions will also be held with Warwick Giblin, Oz Environmental consultant on the documents, as per the resolution, to ascertain the most cost effective way to do the submissions. Any thoughts from staff involved/mentioned would be appreciated.

Release of NSW Government Discussion Paper on improving mine rehabilitation”. The DPE has issued a Discussion Paper which seeks to engage industry and the community on options for improvements to the regulatory framework for the rehabilitation of major mining projects in NSW. Submissions are due by 16th February 2018. Go to to view the discussion paper and for details.

“Release of the Voluntary Land Acquisition and Mitigation Policy – Public Consultation

The DPE is seeking feedback on its review of the Voluntary Land Acquisition and Mitigation Policy (VLAMP) and an associated amendment to the State Environmnetal Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum Production and Extractive Industries) 2007 (Mining SEPP). Submissions are due by 16th Febraury 2018. Go to for the draft guidelines.

Ron Swicker, Wollongong City Council, has already provided some dot points on the EPA Act changes and will have a look at the other papers in the new year. Brief discussions were held with DPE staff at our meeting in Sydney on 15th December 2017 on the documents on exhibition. The Executive Officer and Clr Hasler have had preliminary discussions with Warwick Giblin on the submissions in preparation for our submissions in 2018, if needed.

Related Matters of Interest – Mining and Energy Issues in the Press

Wind power under – utilised

Whilst the articles on energy options have diminished in recent times albeit a headline like “Wind power under-utilised” (SMH 13TH December 2017,, by Cole Latimer caught the eye when he was talking about renewable energy and he said “the  extent of resources is massive” in his subline. He says “ Australia can lead the world in wind power, but a lack of direction in policy has hampered its growth, according to the Australian Wind Alliance………..”

NSW makes first large scale renewable energy power purchase”  Journalist Peter Hannam, SMH 8th December 2017, He says “the Berejiklian governmen has its first move into large sacle renewable energy, signing a decade plus contract to help underpin the new Dubbo Solar Hub in the state’s Central West” Nooen Australia will begin from mid 2019 and run to the end on 2030.


If you have any queries in relation to this newsletter please do not hesitate to contact the Chair or the Executive Officer to see how we can assist you in your busy role as a Council delegate to the Association of Mining Related Councils.

Our contacts are:- Chair, Clr Peter Shinton, by email or phone at Council on 02 6849 2000 or the Executive Officer, Greg Lamont, by email or or phone on 0407 937 636.

Greg Lamont –  Executive Officer       

Clr Peter Shinton – Chair