Sunday, May 28, 2017

Coal, coal seam gas, food production, food security, climate change and population

Posted by Jim on December 20, 2010

The effects of irreversible environmental damage are just one of the factors in the battle against the excesses of the coalmining industry.  Top quality farming land faces devastation by coalmining or CSG extraction and that of course has been the focus of the campaigns against coalmining and its expansion.

To my mind, it is not only the environmental vandalism that is evident in the Hunter Valley, for example, but it is also the absence of Federal and State food security policies that is the most shocking context of this impetus to expand mining and extraction into productive land in the Hunter Valley [agricultural productivity is already decimated], the Liverpool Plains and the Darling Downs.  I am outraged that any Australian Government allows foreign companies owned by foreign governments [Shinghua 67% by PRC] or any mining company to buy up agricultural land for mining and CSG extraction.

I am equally outraged that they allow the sale of top quality agricultural land land to foreign companies owned by foreign governments whose mission statements refer to the food security of the foreign country [Hassad Foods & Qatar].  Australia is allowing foreign governments to purchase Australian land for their food security?  In the absence of a food security policy – let alone a strategy – for Australia!  That is a betrayal of Australia and future generations of Australians.

The campaign against coal needs to shift gears and address the failure of food security planning as a matter of urgency while the Labor Party and the Coalition are failing the nation and its grandchildren.  Indeed I would argue that the campaign against coalmining and coal seam gas should also adopt the discourse of betrayal of our national interest.  Even though there has been much made of the nonsensical proposition of allowing mining of top agricultural land, it might be seen as been a matter of self-interest on the part of farmers by an un-engaged city audience.

The failure of planners to take account of the impact of alienating productive land is a long-standing problem on the verges of urban expansion with the disappearance of large market garden areas around our cities and towns.  It doesn’t only happen in the capitals: it happens in regional cities such as Toowoomba.

The food security policy vacuum is locked into the other two major issues of our time and for the next generation [ie to 2030] and the next [to 2050]: population and climate change.  The population grows as we see the prospect of productive land diminished by Greed, Coal and CSG.  The best agricultural land must be preserved to feed our rapidly growing population, especially in the face of shifting climate characteristics and extended and more severe weather events.  But governments are sitting on their thumbs.

Take the Queensland Government, for example.  It now owns the agricultural land in the upper Mary River Valley while coalminers plan open cut pits along the river’s major tributaries and the river itself.  What does the Bligh Government do about planning food security for South-East Queensland and in particular, what does it do about the land it ill-advisedly purchased for the Traveston Dam?  It has run a food cropping land “inquiry” that does not specifically address food security nor specifically address the best use of the land it now owns and it can’t re-sell to the farmers it pushed off the land.  Is there a panel of agricultural scientists, environmental experts, and the local community nutting out a model plan for food security in the Mary Valley and planning for climate change?  Forget it!

Jim McDonald, Greens Wide Bay Spokesperson, 20/12/10

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