The Queensland Palaszczuk Government is pushing for a review that threatens the rights of landholders, community members, and Traditional Owners to challenge mining projects on their merits, says Lock the Gate Alliance.
Lock the Gate Alliance national coordinator Ellen Roberts said recently released draft terms of reference for a review of hard fought for merit review rights contained frighteningly weak language and no guarantee that the laws would be upheld.
“This review represents a backflip for the Palaszczuk Government, which was first elected in 2015 promising to restore these very important review rights after then Premier Campbell Newman scrapped them the previous year,” she said.
“We’re happy to have a review of court processes in Queensland but have asked for reassurances from the government that crucial community objection rights won’t be taken away. The government has refused to provide these reassurances.
“Now after court wins in recent years by communities objecting to mining projects, it seems the Palaszczuk Government is listening to the mining industry against the interests of ordinary Queenslanders, and asking for a review that could strip these hard won rights.
“Mining projects impact land, water, air quality and our climate and it’s vital that the community is able to request full merits review of these impacts from an independent, expert court.”
“We need more transparency and oversight over the mining industry in Queensland, not less.
“Weakening merit review appeal rights for ordinary Queenslanders will further favour big mining lobbyists, leading to an increased risk of corruption and reduced accountability.”
President of the Bimblebox Alliance and Central Queensland landholder Paola Cassoni, who is among a group challenging the approval of Clive Palmer’s Galilee Coal Project using merit review rights in the Land Court alongside Youth Verdict, said the laws needed to be strengthened, not weakened.
“This is the only opportunity ordinary Queenslanders like us have to stand up to the might of someone like Clive Palmer and his destructive coal mine,” she said.
“The Bimblebox Nature Refuge should be preserved in perpetuity for all Queenslanders to enjoy, and to preserve vital habitat for local biodiversity. But weak laws in Queensland allow mining companies to rip apart nature refuges for the sake of the finite coal industry.
“It’s a travesty that ordinary Queenslanders don’t have more options to protect the places, the land, and the water that we cherish, and it would be an even greater travesty if this single appeal right were to be weakened in any way.”