Richmond MP Justine Elliot with the Hon Tony Burke MP in Canberra.
Richmond MP Justine Elliot with the Hon Tony Burke MP in Canberra. Contributed

Burke sings praises of NSW MP's leading CSG fight

FEDERAL Environment Minister Tony Burke used question time on Tuesday to praise the work of Janelle Saffin and Justine Elliot in lobbying for tougher coal seam gas regulations.

The northern New South Wales Labor MPs joined Mr Burke in the Parliament House Blue Room on Tuesday as he announced plans to make water a trigger for federal intervention in CSG and large coal mining development approvals.

Ms Saffin and Ms Elliot were among a group of MPs briefed about the proposed changes by Mr Burke earlier on Tuesday.

The Labor caucus later approved the changes, with some MPs taking the opportunity to ask questions and raise concerns about CSG expansion.

Ms Elliot, who stepped down as the parliamentary secretary for trade in February to concentrate on fighting CSG expansion in Richmond, told reporters northern rivers people would welcome the decision.

"Obviously, as the Minister has said, there's very widespread community concern. And on the northern rivers, where Janelle and I are, the community have been very, very outspoken about this issue," Ms Elliot said.

"And I'm sure they'll welcome this latest announcement in terms of strengthening our environmental controls. It is a real concern for them up there."

She said while the tighter controls were a step in the right direction, she would continue to maintain pressure on the NSW Government.

Later during question time, Mr Burke used a question from Ms Saffin to praise her and Ms Elliot.

"I want to thank the Member for Page for the question and acknowledge the advocacy of both the member for Page and the member for Richmond in their concerns about various proposals in the Northern Rivers area," Mr Burke said.

"This is an issue which has been raised by many members on this side and also very prominently by a number of members of the crossbench."

Ms Saffin said the changes meant CSG's march into the northern rivers could be stopped in its tracks.

"I have said for years that we have to protect our water from the known risks of CSG mining," Ms Saffin said.

"I've been working with the minister and his advisors for some period of time on this.

"I've told the minister that the community wanted us to find a way to have water included in the assessments for coal seam gas. And I thank the minister for doing that."

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