Coal company threatens legal action against 84-year-old Queensland grandmother

Published: February 03, 2020

New Hope Group, owner of the New Acland coal mine on Queensland’s Darling Downs, is threatening an 84-year-old grandmother who is an alpaca farmer at Oakey.

Aileen Harrison, president of the Oakey Coal Action Alliance, has been singled out by New Hope following the farming group’s defeat in the Land Court as part of the ongoing battle to save prime agricultural land from New Acland’s Stage 3 expansion.

While Aileen and other members of OCAA are now attempting to take the matter to the High Court, New Hope has issued Mrs Harrison with a letter claiming that she should personally pay their legal costs following the Court of Appeal decision.  

This would likely bankrupt Mrs Harrison, who has already suffered terribly due to the mining expansion. 

In 2010, Mrs Harrison and her husband Ken were forced out of their home, which was on a property they shared with their daughter, due to the Acland Stage 2 mine.

The noise and dust from the mine had become intolerable as it encroached within 1.2km of their home. 

“It was our home, our retirement home, on our daughter’s property, and they wouldn’t compensate any of us for it,” Mrs Harrison said.

“None of us were compensated for that house. New Acland got it for nothing.  It didn’t seem right and it wasn’t fair.”

Mrs and Mr Harrison now live in a donga near Oakey on their daughter’s property after the family moved, where they care for their alpaca flock.

“All we want to do is live on this land peacefully with our family and our alpacas, but New Acland coal seem to be trying to take the little that we have left from us” said Mrs Harrison.

“I don’t know where we would live or what we would do if New Hope took us to court and we were forced into bankruptcy.

“This company has already done so much damage to this region, and the water and farmland is too important to put at risk.

“This country should be here for future generations, like my grandchildren, to farm and grow food and fibre so that we can keep on feeding and clothing Queenslanders. 

“Soil in this region is in the top 1.5 per cent in Queensland and the groundwater here is precious. It shouldn’t be destroyed for a coal mine."

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