Roxby Downs Indenture Act review verges on farce with public denied, witnesses rejected

The special Committee set up by the Lower House of State Parliament to examine the Olympic Dam Expansion Bill is planning to only hear from 3 witnesses – all spruiking the project – and bar the media and public from the hearings. We applied for permission to video record the proceedings for our documentary film, but were declined.

The only scheduled hearing of the Committee is October 27th. The only groups invited to present are the Government (10.30am), BHP Billiton (11.30am) and the Chamber of Mines (2pm). No advertising has been done and the hearings are set to be held behind closed doors.

In response to his rejection, Associate Professor Jochen Kaempf made the video statement below. He is one of a significant list of witnesses who wrote to the Secretary seeking permission to present to the committee and answer their questions.

“This Committee process concocted by the Labor Government and Liberal Opposition is a complete joke,” said Greens Parliamentary Leader Mark Parnell.

“Despite the enormous economic, social and environmental impacts of the deal signed between the Government and the world’s richest resource company, and the huge public interest in the project, the Committee is refusing to hear from anyone apart from people who are gung-ho in favour.

“How can they claim they have carried out their responsibility as Members of Parliament to seriously examine this Bill if they only hear one side of the story?

“This is a real test for Premier Weatherill. Will this be another ‘announce and defend’ spin job, or will he intervene to ensure a real exchange of views with scientific and environmental experts who continue to raise legitimate concerns about this project?

“And will Isobel Redmond have the courage to stand up to the Government’s chest-beating and ensure decent scrutiny of the largest industrial project in the State’s history before the deal becomes law?

“If the Lower House continues to shirk its duty it will once again fall to the Upper House to do its job as a watchdog of Government,” he said.

[Late addition: at the convening of the committee at approximately 10am, it was decided to allow the public and media access to the three sessions. Premier Jay Weatherill has said he is open to wider scrutiny of the Roxby Downs Indenture Act, but as of 3:30pm no public committment to further hearings have been made.]

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Dan Monceaux is a South Australian documentary filmmaker and the director of Cuttlefish Country.

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