The Speaker, Peter Wellington, today accepted a landmark document from Darling Downs residents seeking to have the rights of the community to object to coal mines re-instated.
The previous LNP government took away the rights of local communities to have their objections to coordinated coal mining projects heard in the Queensland Land Court.
In response to community concerns in the lead-up to the January election, the ALP promised to restore objection rights, but they have not yet delivered and landholders on the Darling Downs look set to lose the right to take the Acland Stage 3 coal project to court.
Farmers today told the Speaker about the devastating impacts the Acland mine has had on their lives and their fears if the government allows its expansion. They called on the ALP to ensure their objections to the Acland stage 3 expansion would be heard in the Land Court.
Mrs Aileen Harrison and Mr Frank Ashman, both members of the Oakey Coal Action Alliance, came to Brisbane to present Mr Wellington with a ‘People’s Bill’ petition that he has agreed to pass on to the Clerk of the Parliament and Premier Palaszczuk on their behalf.
In an historic move last year, members of Lock the Gate Alliance and supporter groups tabled a 'People's Common Rights and Provisions Bill 2014' in the empty Upper House of Queensland Parliament.
The Bill, currently with more than 4,200 signatures, heralds the centre-piece of a campaign to restore to Queenslanders the common rights that are being eroded by the mining industry, including objection rights.
Mrs Harrison and her husband Ken lost their “dream home” when the impacts of New Hope’s huge open cut Acland mine became “unbearable”. She said if Stage 3 went ahead more strategic farmland would be lost, more water bores would go dry and more families would suffer.
“We were only two kilometres from the mine and it was terribly stressful and unhealthy. We all got sick and the the dust, noise and bright lights were just too much to live with day and night.
“When we gave up and decided to get out, we had to sell the property for a song because nobody wants to live next to a coal mine. We had to forfeit our dream home to live in a donga. It’s freezing cold in winter and very hot in summer – not exactly my idea of a dream home.”
Frank Ashman and his wife, Lynn run a 270-hectare beef cattle stud at Brymaroo, about eight kilometres from the mine. They fear that if stage 3 proceeds, the mine will take the bore water they need to run their business and they want a guarantee from the government that their concerns will be heard in the Land Court.
“If we can’t water our stock, our livelihood is over and that’s unfair after the investment we’ve made in the stud,” he said. “It just seems ridiculous that some of our best farming and grazing land is being used for mining operations that are also putting our precious water at risk.”