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New Hope mine would raise flags at NSW anti-corruption body

A New Acland coal mine pit is progressing in a southerly direction.
A New Acland coal mine pit is progressing in a southerly direction. Stuart Cumming

THE New Acland mine's approval would warrant scrutiny from the Independent Commission Against Corruption if it happened in NSW, a former commissioner has said.

David Ipp, the ICAC commissioner who found former NSW Labor MPs Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald were involved in corrupt deals, was asked about the mine expansion after speaking yesterday at a Brisbane conference on accountability.

Anti-mining campaigner Drew Hutton asked Mr Ipp if the Darling Downs mine's approval, which allegedly followed more than $700,000 in donations to the Federal Liberal Party from New Acland owner New Hope, would raise red flags at ICAC.

"Yes," was Mr Ipp's only response.

While Mr Ipp said it would have been investigated he did not say the expansion was corrupt.

He noted throughout his previous speech how innocent donations could be explained with better political accountability processes.

In his question to Mr Ipp, Mr Hutton alleged the New Hope donation to the Liberal Party was sent back to the Queensland LNP.

However, he admitted this was just "scuttlebutt", claiming transferring donations from federal to state parties was "common practice".

Mr Hutton's Lock the Gate group, as well other anti-mining campaigners, claims the LNP back-flipped on promises not to approve the expansion after the donation.

The LNP has denied the claims, previously stating the expansion was approved after the proposal was changed, and maintaining the state party had not received such a big donation from the miner.

The New Acland mine expansion became an election issue after Sydney shock jock Alan Jones spoke about the approval on his Brisbane election specials.

- APN NEWSDESK

Topics:  darling downs icac new acland coal mine new hope


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