The Queensland Resources Council’s utter contempt for the independence of the highest court in Australia shows the mining lobby has no respect for the rule of law or democracy, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.
Media reported last week the QRC wanted the Queensland Government to subvert the High Court’s decision to rule in favour of Darling Downs farmers in relation to the Acland Stage 3 coal mine proposal, and instead simply approve the project.
“The QRC is undertaking a brazen attack on the High Court in a bid to have the rule of law in Australia overturned to suit a single mining corporation,” Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith said.
“It’s appalling that it is prepared to tear down the standing of High Court decisions in a blatant bid to deploy wedge politics as a Federal election looms.
“The QRC and its billionaire mining clientele have no respect for Australian democracy and instead want to wipe out the High Court’s decision with special, tailor-made laws to suit mining companies.
“Queenslanders have had a gutful of mining giants running roughshod over the farmers who are doing their best to produce food and fibre for the state.
“Having withstood the $600,000 election campaign by the mine owner, New Hope Coal, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to stand by the High Court’s decision.”
Queensland Labor was elected in 2015 in part because it promised to reinstate community objection rights to large coal mining projects, which the LNP stripped away under Campbell Newman.
“The High Court ruled in the Acland Stage 3 case last week that local farmers had not been provided their ‘day in court’, underscoring that this was a crucial judgement about community objection rights in Queensland,” Ms Smith said.
“This is a vital legacy issue for Premier Palaszczuk - she needs to strongly reconfirm the government will not pursue any special legislation or unilateral action that would jeopardise the community rights recognised by the High Court.
“The Stage 3 expansion would force many farmers off the land, thereby further harming the Oakey economy. It would also put an end to the production of about 10 million litres of milk on dairies in the area, and permanently destroy farmland that is classed in the top 1.5 per cent of the state.”
Ms Smith said Mr Macfarlane’s attempt to draw a comparison between a Bligh Government 2007 decision to approve the Newlands coal mine was flawed. That case did not relate to a High Court decision, and it was a procedural issue, not as in this case where local community objections have not been given an unbiased hearing in court.
The State Government is still investigating New Acland over alleged illegal mining in the “West Pit” area. New Acland is alleged to have already excavated $500 million worth of coal from the pit, which it does not have approval to mine.
New Hope will pay 93% of all required coal royalties to themselves, not the Queensland Government, leaving little in the way of economic benefit to Qld Treasury.
New Hope’s economic expert Dr Jerome Fahrer confirmed in court that his modelling showed Stage 3 would have an overall negative impact on job availability in the Oakey region.
The decline in Oakey’s economy is parallel to the mine’s activity. New Hope’s purchase of 80 properties resulted in the relocation of 50 farming families, which in turn led to a decrease in regular customers to local businesses. Due to the decline of local herds, the Oakey cattle sales which were an annual injection of finances to the town’s businesses ended in 2007.
New Acland can only start mining its stage 3 expansion if it is granted a mining license and a water license.