The Queensland Government’s move to approve an Environmental Authority for the Acland Stage 3 coal project while it is still under a political donations cloud is a terrible decision that will have far-reaching repercussions, says Lock the Gate Alliance.
The group’s president, Drew Hutton said the government should have waited until the completion of a Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) investigation into political donations - a Queensland Labor election promise - before a decision was made on the Environmental Authority.
Lock the Gate Alliance last week lodged a wide-ranging complaint with the CCC in relation to about $1 million of political donations to the Liberal Party of Australia made by the Acland Stage 3 coal mine proponent, New Hope Corporation and its parent company, Washington H Soul Pattinson.
“This is a very sad day for the people of Oakey and Acland - government after government has treated them with disregard and contempt,” Mr Hutton said.
“The locals have no choice now but prepare to continue to fight in other ways with the help of the many groups that have supported them over the years.
“It's incredibly disappointing that a government that promised to issue in a new era of accountability and transparency in Queensland has yet again chosen to rush through an outcome to suit the interests of big mining and shafted local communities and the environment.
“This mine will drain precious groundwater, destroy some of the best agricultural land in the country, and put at risk the health of local communities.
“Queensland Labor promised during the election campaign to scrutinise the approval process for the mine and the impacts of the mine on the local communities, and they promised a full CCC inquiry in relation to political donation issues. Neither of those things has occurred.
“This was a chance for the Palaszczuk Government to show that it had enough courage to at least conduct thorough investigations and inquiries before capitulating to mining interests.
"Instead, they've rushed through a bad decision by approving this Environmental Authority, and the local communities of Acland and Oakey must now go through all the stress and financial pressure of bringing a challenge in the Land Court to try to overturn the Government’s decision," he said.
Some of the locals already impacted by stage one and two of the mine, as well as some threatened by stage 3, featured on the SBS program, Insight last week.
The Acland Stage 3 Coal Mine:
- Will result in the loss of around 1361 hectares of strategic cropping land
- Will result in the release of poor quality mine water into Lagoon Creek, reducing water quality and degrading surface water supplies
- Will cause drawdown in groundwater aquifers of up to 47m in some locations
- Will worsen air quality for those surrounding the mine, most of whom are already living with poor air quality from the current mine
- Will cause negative impacts on threatened species and communities, including the Koala
- Will allow a treasured and irreplaceable local heritage site, the Acland War Memorial and Tom Doherty Park, to be flogged off to New Hope Coal
- Will leave a final hole or 'void' that covers more than 475 hectares
- Will do little or nothing for Queenslanders because it is captured by an old title which means that the State Government will not even receive royalties.