Farmers across the country have come out swinging against plans by the Federal Attorney General, George Brandis, to remove the rights of communities to challenge coal mine approvals in the Federal court.
"The Federal Government has just approved 3 giant open-cut coal pits on some of the best food-producing land in Australia, and now they want to limit who can go to court to challenge it" said Liverpool Plains farmer Andrew Pursehouse.
"They're pretending this is all about greenies, but we know what this is about - this is about allowing coal mining companies to run roughshod over farmers and local communities" he said.
"If George Brandis has his way, local landcare groups like ours would have no right to challenge the Federal approval of a devastating coal mine like Shenhua' said Nicky Chirlian, a member of the Upper Mooki Landcare Group challenging the NSW approval of the Shenhua Watermark coal mine.
"I won't be directly affected by the Shenhua mine, but my regional environment and my entire community will be. If these changes go ahead, it will undermine basic justice and fairness for rural communities who are facing off against the biggest mining companies in the world" she said.
"We can't believe that George Brandis is moving to give even more power to mining companies and to destroy what few limited legal rights we still have left" said Narrabri farmer Sarah Ciesiolka.
"This proposal is an absolute disgrace - they want to hand our lifeblood, the Great Artesian Basin, to coal and gas mining companies on a silver platter and make sure the community has virtually no rights to challenge them" she said.
"Landholders and communities are just not going to cop this" said Phil Laird, spokesperson with Lock the Gate Alliance.
"This is about nationally significant environment issues, like our precious water resources and heritage sites, that all Australians have a stake in.
"It beggars belief the Federal Government is choosing to crack down on communities and roll out the red carpet for miners, despite the massive backlash against the Shenhua coal mine approval.
"If the Government had any concern for jobs and the economy, they'd be protecting our existing rural industries and businesses, instead of putting them at risk for a short term industry that will cause lasting damage" he said.