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Dodgy deal for New Hope? Farmers fear special treatment for coal mine during severe drought

The Oakey Coal Action Alliance is calling on the Palaszczuk Government to hold firm in the face of bizarre comments made via the media by New Hope, owners of the New Acland coal mine.

In response to the company’s press conference last week, OCAA secretary Paul King said the Palaszczuk Government should give local farmers the same respect it had given the coal company.

He said it was strange the company’s chief development officer Ben Armitage appeared to be foreshadowing what was happening behind the closed doors of Queensland Cabinet meetings.

“It’s very worrying to see New Hope coal talking about confidential cabinet processes in the media today and saying cabinet will make a decision on the project in the coming days,” Mr King said.

“A decision on a mining lease is for the Minister for Resources alone, and if cabinet is making a decision we are very concerned this will lead to him being influenced based on irrelevant considerations.

“We’re calling on the Palaszczuk Government to assure us urgently there is a proper unbiased process underway and that the government will not make a decision until our appeal period to take the matter to the High Court has passed.

“The government has repeatedly delayed final decisions on the project while New Hope coal pursued appeal processes, and Minister Lynham owes our local community the same courtesy.

“We’re also very concerned about the suggestion that this project will become a ‘prescribed project’ which would allow the final crucial decisions about groundwater impacts to be fast-tracked and even removed from the decision-maker to be made by the Coordinator General. 

“It’s extraordinary that the Palaszczuk Government would rush through a groundwater decision at a time of terrible drought when farmers in the region are already under severe strain.

“This project should also not be approved until the investigation by the Department of Environment and Science into serious allegations of unlawful mining outside authorised areas at the Acland Stage 2 mine has been completed.”

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