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Major parties need to show common sense in coal and coal seam gas debate

The Lock the Gate Alliance has unveiled its program to resolve the conflict in Queensland over the social and environmental impacts of coal and coal seam gas mining and called on Labor and the LNP to adopt policies to address these.

Lock the Gate Alliance president Drew Hutton said the LNP especially needed to show responsible leadership on this issue because many of their constituents would be the main victims of the current mad rush to extract coal and gas from rural Australia.

"We are not anti-mining and we are not trying to destroy the coal and coal seam gas industries," Mr Hutton said.

"We simply want to ensure that Queenslanders and their environment are not pillaged for short-term gain."

Mr Hutton has called on the parties to halt all further progress on major expansions of the coal industry and the introduction of the export coal seam gas industry until the following measures are installed:

1. Protection of all residential, rural residential and closely settled areas
Currently approved or near-approved coal mines threaten the towns of Acland and Wandoan and projected mines threaten Toowoomba, Maryborough, Oakey, Warwick, Pittsworth and Chinchilla. Bauxite mining threatens Kingaroy.

2. Protection of good agricultural land
The Bligh government's proposed Strategic Cropping Land legislation will protect very little good agricultural land from coal mining and but won't protect it from coal seam gas at all. We must protect our food bowls.

3. Protection of aquifers and the Great Artesian Basin
We need an independent, transparent and multi-disciplinary study of important aquifers that are vulnerable to mining, especially coal seam gas. This needs to focus on inter-connectedness between aquifers and mining would need to avoid such areas. There also needs to be a clear idea of how the extracted, polluted water can be safely dealt with.

4. Protection of environmentally sensitive areas
Currently coal and coal seam gas mining threatens nature refuges, wetlands and world heritage areas. These must be given a wide berth.

5. Give landowners the last word on whether miners can enter their properties
The law in Queensland currently gives this to mining companies who often use it ruthlessly.

Mr Hutton said he would be discussing these demands with all parties in the next few weeks and said he was particularly keen to hear from the Liberal National party which had most to lose from continuing its total support for mining over the needs of rural communities and the environment.

"The Lock the Gate Alliance intends to make this a key issue for the next state election and will focus especially on city and coastal electorates," Mr Hutton said.

"History will recognise the political party that elevates sustainability and long-term prosperity above the short-term greed that is driving this coal and gas rush.

"The voters of Queensland will do the same at the next election."

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