If there's one thing that the recent bushfires have illustrated, it's that the public cares a lot about the Australian environment and the animals within it.
The bushfires have intensified the focus on climate change and activities that contribute towards it, such as coal mining.
As such, many would consider it necessary that Centennial Coal's plans for seismic testing in Lake Macquarie receives adequate scrutiny.
The fact the testing hasn't received thorough community consultation is a serious problem. The testing was planned to begin on Monday but no one in the community - including political and community leaders - appeared to know about it.
As the Newcastle Herald reports, Save Our Coast representative Natasha Deen said the testing had been "suddenly imposed on us by Centennial Coal, without community awareness, without adequate community consultation or concern for the fragile ecosystem".
Lake Macquarie has endured more than its fair share of environmental damage over decades from Pasminco heavy metal pollution, power station ash dams and canals, coal mining under and around the lake, along with suburban pollution.
But in the last 15 to 20 years, the lake has made big improvements following the banning of commercial fishing and much-improved environmental management in the catchment.
The lake is home to dolphins, sharks, turtles, seals and a diverse range of fish. Video of a great white shark leaping above the water a few years ago was a sight to behold. And those who see dolphins and seals in the lake often cherish the experience.
The planned seismic testing has alarmed environmentalists and the fishing community. They're concerned it could harm marine species, having taken note of a report on the matter by environmental consultants GHD.
The slogan "I fish and I vote" is a powerful one. The fishing community has long held sway in the corridors of power. An alliance between fishing and environmental groups on a big issue in Lake Macquarie should not be taken lightly.
Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper said he was unaware of the planned seismic testing until late this week. This is clearly a breakdown in democracy. Government departments involved in approving seismic testing in the lake should be properly informing the local MP about the matter. Questions should be raised in Parliament and with the relevant ministers about why the MP and the community were kept in the dark.
Late on Friday, Centennial Coal agreed to delay the testing by a week. But a week won't be long enough for proper consultation to occur. The NSW government has - so far - failed the public on this matter. It should step in and further halt the seismic testing at least until it receives the public attention and scrutiny that should be standard for contentious plans like this.
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