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Farming community slams “mates rates” regulation for controversial coal mine

A broken promise from the last State Election and the future of an iconic farming town being swallowed by a coal mine haunts the Newman Government two weeks out from Election Day.

In the lead up to the 2012 election the Liberal-National Party (LNP) promised to stop the third stage of the New Acland mine and protect cropping land from coal mining. Just one month ago,   New Hope Coal’s controversial Stage 3 of the coal mine was approved by the Coordinator-General.

Oakey Coal Action Alliance President (OCAA) John Cook said: “Deb Frecklington, the LNP member for Nanango, visited Acland and promised via emails to residents and media announcements, to stop the Stage 3 expansion because it would seriously impact Strategic Cropping Land. Three years later, the mine has been approved and the conflict between coal mining and agriculture is more intense than ever. 

“The government’s Darling Downs Regional Plan, Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Act and recent changes to the Water Act give carte blanche to the coal and CSG sectors. Queensland rural communities are actually worse off than under Labor who has also been complicit in allowing the huge mining juggernaut to invade our most productive lands.”

The Acland Stage 3 approval by the Queensland Coordinator-General was announced by the Deputy Premier at 6pm on a Friday, December 18. The LNP, both State and Federal, have received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from New Hope and its parent company Washington Soul Pattinson.

“This revised Stage 3 is worse than the original,” Mr Cook said. “They are still targeting the best cropping land, because the best coal is there. They will shut down Acland township and close access to remaining residents.”

The Oakey Coal Action Alliance pointed to the current Environmental Authority for New Acland, which allows the mine to pollute the air to three times the national standard for particle pollution, and much greater noise pollution than any other mine.

“The loss of 80 district cropping and mixed farms in a world demanding clean food is already a scandal, but for this mine to have lax environmental conditions that don’t even comply with national standards indicates New Hope is getting mates rates on environmental regulation, and the community is being shafted,” he said.

“People and communities don’t matter in Queensland. The Government is intent on a crooked coal agenda regardless of the health and farm impacts this has. We think Ms Frecklington and most of her colleagues deserve the boot.”

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