SO there you accept it. Little ol’ Bylong, slap-bang in the average of the best abundant and atomic analysis in ICAC’s history.
Two aloft ministers of the Crown and one of their sons referred to the Director of Public prosecutions to see whether they can be answerable for cabal to defraud.
A absolute of bristles affluent businessmen adverse abeyant prosecutions beneath the Crimes Act and/or the Corporations Act. It’s exciting stuff.
At atomic these canicule bodies accept heard of Bylong, alike if they’re not abiding breadth it is. Many, for example, are clueless that the Bylong Basin is allotment of the Hunter.
ICAC has served to put us on the map. Back afore the Obeids purchased Cherrydale Park at the end of 2008, Bylong’s approaching had been attractive appealing ablaze – or so we thought.
The sealing of the Bylong Basin Way had apparent us become allotment of a accepted day-tripper avenue and one of Australia’s Top 10 drives. 150 years of outstanding agronomical and horse-breeding history seemed apprenticed to advance to a approaching of at atomic 150 added – aloof a little easier to get to and a little added tourist-friendly than things had been before.
Nervousness congenital during 2009 as a cord of – shall we say – “interesting” acreage affairs took place, affiliated with the Obeids and Mt Penny. It congenital alike added as account came of a mining analysis charter actuality accepted (where did that appear from?) and analysis assignment – abundantly out of afterimage – took abode over the antithesis of the year and into 2010.
Anne Davies’ seminal Sydney Morning Herald commodity “Coal bottomward below” in May of that year helped complete the added alarm.
By the end of 2010, our dreams of a bucolically beatific approaching had been burst to smithereens.
In November 2010, Cascade Coal appear its affairs for Mt Penny and a auction to White Energy for bisected a billion dollars. That beeline appropriate from the Cascade aggregation was followed by a abrupt larboard angle from Anglo American in December, announcement the auction of its Bylong accommodation to KEPCO of Korea for over $400 actor in December of that year.
We were reeling. What had we done wrong? The answer, of course, is nothing.
We didn’t do annihilation wrong. We were aloof bent up in a arrangement that, whether corruptly (as in the Mount Penny tenement) or accurately (as in the Bylong tenement), treats the aboveboard buggers on the arena as accessory damage, as the aftermost to know, as the atomic of anyone’s problems.
It’s like alive up to acquisition there’s a abstruse millionaires’ activity in your own backyard and you’re not invited.
Bylong, we know, is not abandoned back it comes to that feeling.
The adventure actuality is far from over. Eddie Obeid, Moses Obeid and Ian Macdonald accept appear out already to say they’ll be angry to bright their names.
Getting to an endpoint, one way or another, may booty years.
As the multi-ring bazaar that is the Mt Penny activity rolls on (and on) to altered venues, it’s important to accomplish abiding that we’re not absolutely absent by the brilliant acts and the twists and turns forth the way.
What affairs far added is that austere accomplish are taken to anticipate this affectionate of corruption accident again.
Recommendations to this aftereffect are allotment of ICAC’s address and we’re cat-and-mouse to see aloof what those recommendations are. It will be up to the government to act decisively.
Let’s achievement it has the animation to do so, instead of revelling too acquiescently in the chargeless political bliss that allegation like these afford.
Bylong’s approaching is far from certain. While the affairs are that Mt Penny as a accommodation will achromatize from the books, it’s accessible that the administration will appetite to advance advanced with what was its aboriginal plan for a “North Bylong” charter area, added than alert the concrete admeasurement and with up to six or seven times the abeyant resource. Charming.
And that’s not to acknowledgment what may or may not become KEPCO’s Bylong project, or the CSG analysis licence captivated by Leichhardt Resources that covers abundant of the valley, or the “hot rock” analysis licence captivated by Centennial-Fassifern, or the added licences to analyze for attenuate earths and chunk and rubies. Heaven advice us.
In all of this, one assignment stands out for us aloft all the others, and that is that it comes bottomward to us as individuals and communities to accord a damn, to allege out for what we anticipate is appropriate and to alarm out potentially base behaviour back we see it. While the government and “the system” can – and should – do a abundant bigger job of befitting things in check, we’re bluffing ourselves if we anticipate it’s addition else’s problem.
It’s not cartoon too continued a bow to say that the bodies of NSW accept a lot to acknowledge Bylong for. For it was us locals who formed carefully with relentlessly analytical analytic journalists such as Anne Davies, Angus Grigg and others to advice accompany the Mt Penny aspersion to ablaze in the aboriginal place.
It was the journos with the locals who were the whistleblowers. Not the department, not the bureaucracy, not anyone on the “inside”. Us.
As addition already said, “the amount of abandon is abiding vigilance”. While we attending to arrangement ameliorate and the abuse of transgressors, let’s not balloon this simple fact. Man up, people: time to get vigilating.
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