NuCoal investor makes plea to NSW MPs

Sean Nicholls
State Political Editor

The plight of a shareholder who faces losing hundreds of thousands of dollars when a controversial coal licence is torn up by the NSW government will be raised in the Coalition party room before special legislation is introduced to Parliament.

Newcastle MP Tim Owen will on Thursday raise the concerns of constituent Darrell Lantry, a shareholder in listed company NuCoal Resources, which owns a coal exploration licence at Doyles Creek in the Hunter Valley.

That licence, and others at Mount Penny and Glendon Brook owned by Cascade Coal, were issued by corrupt former Labor resources minister Ian Macdonald.

Mr Macdonald granted the Doyles Creek licence in 2008 to Doyles Creek Mining, then chaired by former union official John Maitland, who made millions when NuCoal acquired the company in 2010.

In December, after public hearings, the Independent Commission Against Corruption recommended the state government cancel the licences as they were “tainted”.

Premier Barry O’Farrell has said the companies will not be compensated, despite NuCoal arguing its shareholders are “innocent”.

ICAC says they would have been aware of the controversy surrounding the issuing of the licence by Mr Macdonald.

On Tuesday Mr Lantry – an airconditioning salesman – said he, his wife and his son had invested in NuCoal directly and through their self-managed superannuation fund.

He insisted he was unaware of the controversy when he invested.

“We did a lot of research into this because of the investment we made,” he said. “We’re just average people – we’re not millionaires.” Mr Lantry said he found “comfort” in Mr O’Farrell’s statement in 2011 – before ICAC” inquiry – that NuCoal was an “innocent party.”

Mr O’Farrell has changed his view. “Like him, I had no idea as well,” Mr Lantry said. “It’s been okay for him to change his view, but we’re locked in financially”.

Mr O’Farrell is due to unveil legislation to cancel the licences without compensation at an extraordinary sitting of Parliament on Thursday.

Mr Lantry has emailed MPs urging them not to vote for the legislation.

“The stockmarket is a speculative enterprise at best,” Mr O’Farrell said on Tuesday. “People win or lose on the stockmarket.”

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