Queensland Resources Council boss Ian Macfarlane should apologise to Cecil Plains farmers for misleading them over coal seam gas development in the fertile agricultural region, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.
In 2013, the then LNP Member for Groom stood up in front of a crowd of farmers in Cecil Plains and told them that “you don’t extract coal seam gas and you certainly don’t mine this sort of country unless the farmer says you can”.
There was unanimous opposition to Shell and PetroChina’s (Arrow Energy) plans to drill highly productive farmland at Cecil Plains when the Surat Gas Project received federal approval in 2013, and Cecil Plains farmers vowed to lock their gates against the project.
Last week, Mr Macfarlane was quoted in a media release from his now employer, the Queensland Resources Council, welcoming the Shell and PetroChina decision to officially green light the first stage of the Surat Gas Project.
Cecil Plains dry land and broad acre farmer Russell Bennie, who grows a range of pulses and cereal crops and whose property is covered by Arrow Energy petroleum licence 238, said he was disappointed, but not surprised by Mr Macfarlane’s actions since 2013.
“I was at the meeting when he said that and I recall him saying that,” Mr Bennie said.
“As soon as he joined the Queensland Resources Council it was clear that he’d sold out.
“This is typical of the vast majority of politicians we’ve ever struck. We started this process under Anna Bligh and she sold us down the river as well.
“Mr Macfarlane has shown time and time again what appears to be a lack of consistency and a perceived inability to be trusted, from a landholder's perspective.
“Moving forward, we will take every step available to us to protect our interests and the long term viability of this farmland.”
Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith said Mr Macfarlane should apologise for misleading farmers.
“Clearly Mr Macfarlane, who was once a farmer himself, has sold out his heritage for a quick buck from the resources industry,” she said.
“Back in 2013 he did nothing to stand up for farmers who have vehemently opposed this project from day one and now he’s the industry’s chief cheerleader. He should apologise to the farmers he once claimed to represent.
“The principle stands that there should be no mining of CSG, and no fracking, on prime agricultural land like the Cecil Plains.
“This project was approved in great haste in 2013. The science Macfarlane was calling for then has been done. We know much more now than we did then. We know this industry is already having a massive impact on water resources and on the lives and livelihoods of landholders in the Western Downs. The government needs to send this project back to the drawing board.”