Qld government's mining stance spurs protests

HUNDREDS of Lock the Gate protesters rallied outside State Parliament in Brisbane yesterday against what it termed “invasive mining” being allowed by the newly elected Queensland government.

Lou Caruana

Lock the Gate president, Drew Hutton said the group was concerned that the new state government was “dragging its heels” on important mining reforms that would help protect Queenslanders.

“The ALP, before the election, said it would investigate the Acland mine expansion approval, bring back our rights to object to mining, launch an inquiry into political donations and protect our pristine river systems,” Hutton said.

“But we are yet to see any action on these commitments, and the community is increasingly alarmed that the ALP is falling short on its promises. It is crucial that it acts now and deliver urgent change.”

Shay Dougall from Hopeland, in the Western Downs handed her community’s Gasfields Free Declaration to Queensland Senators Larissa Waters and Glenn Lazarus.

“In our area 85% of people want to be gasfields free but the politicians just ignore that,” she said.

“Families are being torn apart by the impacts of invasive gasfields. People are walking away from their homes due to noise and health impacts, while the government does nothing to help.

“These companies throw communities a few dollars then expect us to just accept the fact that they are risking our water resources, encroaching on our farm land, and reducing our property values.”

The resources sector was ready to partner with the state government to help turn around Queensland’s fortunes, following the release yesterday of sobering economic data by Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt, the Queensland Resources Council said.

The data from Queensland Treasury revealed the state's economy retracted by 0.2% and 0.6% over the September and December quarters of 2014.

“It underlines the difficult times for regional Queenslanders as resources investment has been winding down and the agriculture sector battles drought conditions,” QRC acting CEO Greg Lane said.

“The resources sector is moving from an unprecedented construction cycle and moving into the production and export phase.”

Lane said that as 2015 unfolds, the state accounts will reflect the positive impact of exports from all three LNG projects.

“Even in the face of low commodity prices several Queensland resources sector companies stand ready to invest in new projects, new infrastructure and create new highly skilled jobs.

“These projects are well positioned to take advantage of significantly lower construction costs and are able to confidently target the bottom quartile of costs, building on the success of many existing operations in restoring their cost competitiveness.

“The critical ingredient for investment is business confidence and to date, the new Queensland government has shown promising signs of understanding how fragile business confidence can be.

“However, the significant fall in non-dwelling construction in the second half of 2014 is reflective of the urgent need for the next wave of projects to break ground.

“New resources sector projects - big and small - are about to come onto the boil in places such as the Galilee Basin, the Darling Downs, the Bowen Basin and Cape York.

“Several of these projects should have been in construction by now, but have been hamstrung by red tape, reviews and vexatious litigation from the anti-resources brigade.”

The QRC said it urges the Queensland government to move decisively on removing any remaining state-imposed impediments to these projects and not be distracted by the well-funded campaigns of the activists.