Stakeholders are calling on new Environment Minister Leanne Linard to prioritise key reforms to protect the desert rivers of the Channel Country in South West Queensland from oil and gas projects.
“Premier Palaszczuk first promised in 2015 to protect the Channel Country, and we’ve been waiting eight years to see this promise fulfilled,” said Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland Coordinator Ellie Smith.
“Minister Meaghan Scanlon promised she would get the job done, and on this basis we, alongside Traditional Owners, graziers, and agricultural groups, participated in a lengthy stakeholder engagement process with the government and resources sector.
“We know that the government has prepared a consultation paper, which they’ve sat on for more than six months, without explanation.
“Minister Scanlon is still in cabinet. She should keep her word and push this draft paper through, and new Environment Minister Linard must make good on the Palaszczuk Government's promise, and put in place protections for these unique desert rivers as her first priority.
“We are shocked at Meaghan Scanlon’s removal from the Environment portfolio. The prospect of restarting this whole process with a new minister is deeply disappointing but we are confident Minister Linard can pick things up where they’ve been left off and get this consultation out to the public.
“There must be no more delays, for the sake of outback Queensland’s desert rivers and all who rely on them.”
In March this year Traditional Owners, pastoralists, peak agricultural bodies and regional mayors signed a joint statement calling on the government to release the consultation regulatory impact statement so that public consultation can occur on the regulation of oil and gas in the rivers and floodplains of Lake Eyre Basin, in Queensland’s Channel Country.
Queensland Labor has a legacy of protecting these floodplains in the past, but years of inaction around promised protections against oil and gas have left groups representing the area frustrated and bewildered.
Petroleum tenements now cover hundreds of thousands of hectares of Channel Country floodplains.