Dairy farm disaster should New Acland expansion be approved

Published: July 16, 2020

Farmers have condemned a recent push from a small fringe minority of federal Labor Party politicians to have the destructive New Acland coal mine expansion approved.

Dairy farmer David Vonhoff, who lives just four kilometres from where the new mine’s border would be if approved, said he feared there would be serious draining of the groundwater he relies on to water his 200 cows if the expansion went ahead.

He said he had struggled to feed his cattle during the recent drought, and if groundwater was compromised, it would have a massive impact on his, and the surrounding four other dairy farming operations.

Collectively, the farms produce more than 10 million litres of milk annually.

“During the drought I would cut the grass on the roadside, rake it up to the fence and walk along with a pitchfork just to feed the yearlings,” Mr Vonhoff said.

“It was a really stressful time to operate and now we’re dealing with what the future could be for our underground water.

“Each stage of this mine has dug deeper coal, and Stage Three has so much more potential for drainage of underground water because it’s lower. 

“The land they’re mining is top prime agricultural land. A big proportion of it would be 10/10.”

Farmers on the Darling Downs have long suspected existing activities at New Acland coal mine could be draining water from aquifers, and last year an expert report raised further questions about the coal mine's impact on groundwater.

Oakey Coal Action Alliance secretary Paul King urged the politicians arguing in favour of the mine to meet with the dairy farmers to see what was truly at stake.

“Queenslanders have been shocked in recent years as a variety of factors have decimated the state’s dairy industry,” he said.

“We are only asking our elected federal MPs to respect the court process, and thereby show respect to these farmers who have been doing it so tough lately.

“Farmers commend the Queensland Palaszczuk Government for standing firm and respecting the court process in the face of uninformed attacks from a small group of coal-obsessed Federal MPs. 

“Deb Frecklington meanwhile, came out as a strong opponent of this mine when she was first seeking election in 2011, but now toes the company line in direct opposition to what farmers want in the district.

"Queenslanders respect a strong leader, and the Premier and her ministers have shown their strength by sticking to their commitment to wait until the court process has concluded before making a decision on the destructive New Acland expansion. 

"Queenslanders respect people who stand up to bullies, and New Acland and its mouth-piece supporter MPs are behaving like the biggest bullies of all. 

"Queenslanders also want to support their dairy farmers, and if the New Acland coal mine expansion goes ahead, it threatens major dairy farms that supply 10 million litres of milk annually, while also employing many workers. 

"New Acland has committed multiple breaches, including drilling illegal boreholes, repeatedly violating noise requirements, and is now under federal investigation for alleged illegal mining outside its permitted area. 

"This company is the perfect example of a bad corporate citizen and a bully. MPs who support this mine expansion are either uninformed, or don't care about New Acland's long track record of bullying and legal breaches."

ENDS

Media contact, 0447355565

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