Wide Bay Greens spokesperson, Jim McDonald, was interviewed this week on Noosa Community Radio about a number of issues in the Wide Bay Sunshine Coast regions.
He referred to the Greens’ fishing policy which addresses the sustainability of the Australian commercial fishing industry and recreational fishing. He has expressed concerns previously about the media’s uncritical reporting of continual industry and political misrepresentation of the Greens’ policy. For example, the Noosa Journal recently failed to publish a rebuttal by Jim to a letter to the editor alleging that the Greens planned to ban all fishing. He pulls no punches in this interview.
Jim also talked about the implications of a lack of vision for the Mary Valley within the other political parties. It is an urgent issue as a matter of the national interest that needs to be addressed as part of a national food security strategy. None presently exists. The future of the Mary Valley is an issue that he addressed during the election campaign and he has recently raised the issue again in response to comments on the Mary Valley by Nicklin MP, Peter Wellington. This interview can be heard here.
During the election campaign, Jim was very active in supporting the Aldershot community against the open-cut coalmine Northern Energy Corporation proposes to be dug within a few kilometres of the town. He has continued his support for the community since being appointed the spokesperson for the Federal electorate of Wide Bay. This interview discusses several aspects of the development of coalmining in the region from Wolvi to Aldershot, along the Mary River at Munna Creek, Tiaro and Aldershot and in the Rainbow Beach – Tin Can Bay hinterland. Listen to the interview here.
This is not just a regional or a state issue. It is a matter of the national interest. That interest is the preservation of farming land, community health, and the minimisation of the region’s contribution to global carbon production. Coal mining in the region and the associated development of coal-seam gas exploitation at Munna Creek fail the national interest on each of these criteria.
While the Foreign Investment Review Board allows companies fully or partly owned by foreign governments to buy up land for foreign food security strategies and the NSW Government allows coal mines in part ownership by foreign-government companies to dig up some of the best farming country in the world, our governments are selling out our national interests.
The following video on the Liverpool Plains depicts the incredible proposition that country such as the Darling Downs and the Mary Valley should be ruined by mining interests with the blessings of government.
Jim McDonald, Greens Spokesperson, Wide Bay electorate, 10 October 2010
Coalmining threatens the Sunshine Coast, warned the Greens spokesperson for Wide Bay, Jim McDonald.
He said that Tiaro Coal Limited had already conducted aerial surveys in the Wolvi region, and recently reported to the Stock Exchange that it would soon commence exploration drilling in the district. It can do this under a coal exploration permit EPC967 issued by the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Planning.
Countryside near Wolvi [Photo, Jim McDonald]
The Greens raised coalmining along the Mary Valley as a major issue in the Wide Bay electorate during the recent federal election, and supported the Aldershot community near Maryborough in its fight against an open-cut coalmine just a couple of kilometres from their town.
“The Mary River is threatened by the strong possibility of open cut mines being dug from Munna Creek, one of its major tributaries in the Mary Valley, to Maryborough. That will have devastating effects on the ecology of the river, which is home to rare and threatened species, and on the internationally listed Great Sandy Wetlands, a sea grass environment that supports dugong, dolphins, prawns and fisheries.
“Now, the Sunshine Coast faces the intrusion of coalmining activity near the Noosa River catchment area. Coalmining has no place in coastal regions or where there is top quality farming land in Queensland.
Dr McDonald called upon the LNP spokesperson on the environment, Glen Elmes, and the Member for Wide Bay, Warren Truss, to reject open cut mining along the Mary River, the Cooloola Coast and the Sunshine Coast.
He said he doubted that they would do so, because the Nationals support coalmining in the region. “They certainly didn’t oppose the Colton Coal Mine during the Federal election.
“The Greens will fight the introduction of coalmines into our region.”
Jim McDonald, Greens Spokesperson, Wide Bay Federal Electorate, Media Release, 4 October 2010 Coverage: Sunshine Coast Daily 5/10/10; Gympie Times 6/10/10; Noosa News 8/10/10
The Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management [DERM] has rejected an application for an open-cut coal mine a mere 2-3 kilometres from the township of Aldershot and just outside the Maryborough City Boundary. A DERM spokesperson is reported to have said that the main grounds for rejection of Northern Energy Corporation’s application and Environmental Management Plan were soil characteristics, groundwater and potential impacts to waterways.
This represents a major win for the Aldershot community, which has campaigned long and hard against the mine.
We congratulate the Aldershot community in its steadfast and savvy campaign against the Colton Coal Mine, an open cut mine that was to be dug on the community’s doorstep.
Without Aldershot and District against Mining’s [AADAM] campaign, Northern Energy Corporation’s plans for an extensive mine outside Aldershot and Maryborough might have slipped under the radar and been approved by the State Government.
They did not go it alone, though, and the Wide Bay Conservation Council is also to be congratulated in standing shoulder to shoulder with the community.
The same cannot be said for local politicians, none of whom openly opposed the mine, with the exception of a single Fraser Coast Regional Councillor. The only party that consistently fought against the mine on public health and environmental grounds was The Greens.
The whole question of mines along the Mary River and its basin needs to be re-evaluated by the Bligh Labor Government before any more of the mining companies seek to exploit the Maryborough Coal Basin.
Jim McDonald, Greens Spokesperson, Wide Bay Federal Electorate, 30 September 2010
The announcement last week of the extent of coal deposits at Munna Creek along the Mary Valley represents one more threat to the environment integrity of the Mary River system. After years of threat to the River from the Queensland Government’s Traveston Dam proposal, the threat to the world heritage wetlands at the mouth of the Mary River from the Colston coalmine application, and the Queensland Government plans to pipe water from the Mary River any way, the River now faces threats from open-cut mines at Munna Creek and Tiaro. These are two different coal exploration areas granted to Tiaro Coal Corporation. A third is located in the Tin Can Bay – Rainbow Beach hinterland.
The Munna Creek – Tiaro developments on top of the emergence during the Federal election campaign of the Colton Coal Mine issue represents an escalation of a campaign to protect our region from being turned into a Queensland version of the Hunter Valley, which is disastrous for public health as well as the environment. The Colton Coal Mine is an open-cut mine planned by Northern Energy Corporation a mere couple of kilometres from the Aldershot township just outside Maryborough. That mine is planned to expand into an area drained by the Susan River, which flows directly into the Mary River estuary and the Great Sandy wetlands reserve.
Jim McDonald, Greens Spokesperson, Wide Bay electorate, 27 September 2010
Wide Bay Greens have thrown their weight in behind protests over the proposed large scale explosives facility planned for the Sunshine Coast Quarry location.
Just as we have in Kin Kin, we have inadequate roads. The Moy Pocket situation already has high volume heavy haulage traffic that renders a tourist route along Eumundi-Kenilworth Road dangerous, and dangerous too, for school bus traffic. The situation is worse on Moy Pocket Road where the quarry is located because the road is narrower than Eumundi-Kenilworth Road.
As a regular user of the Eumundi-Kenilworth Road, it seems to me that it would be a planning absurdity for the Gympie Regional Council to approve the development of a large explosives magazine adjacent to the Sunshine Coast Quarry.
The reasons why access along Eumundi-Kenilworth Road and Moy Pocket Road is problematic for the forecast transportation of explosives are:
Eumundi-Kenilworth Road is a tourist road;
Eumundi-Kenilworth Road is a school bus route;
Eumundi-Kenilworth Road already has high volume heavy haulage traffic;
Moy Pocket Road between the Eumundi-Kenilworth Road junction and the quarry includes a single lane bridge;
Moy Pocket Road between the Eumundi-Kenilworth Road junction and the quarry is narrower than Eumundi-Kenilworth Road;
Moy Pocket Road is a school bus route;
There is a school bus route that turns on and off Moy Pocket Road near the quarry;
Moy Pocket Road north of the quarry is sub-standard.
Green Candidate’s response to Coalition promise to pledge $125,000 to support the Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee riparian tree planting program:
I welcome Mr Truss’s initiative to support the wonderful work done by Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee, but it could be a matter of too little too late. As well as the ecological vandalism from the State Government pipeline, the Mary River faces major threats from open-cut coalmining at Tiaro, the beautiful Munna Creek and Aldershot. Mr Truss has been silent on protecting the Mary River from the inevitable impacts on groundwater and aquifers on the health of the Mary River. The proposed mines will also threaten the heritage of the internationally recognised Great Sandy wetlands at the mouth of the Mary River.
While the promised funding would assist the work of the Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee, Mr Truss commits nothing to protecting the Mary River from environmental disaster arising from coalmining.
Comments published in an article in the Noosa News, Friday, 13 August 2010
The Queensland Government’s proposed sale of Queensland’s railways to the coal industry will be the death knell for passenger rail services in regional Queensland, says Jim McDonald, the Greens’ candidate for Wide Bay.
“High speed rail for both freight and passenger services should be an essential element in State Government climate change and population planning. A coal cartel will ruin the future of our rail system if Anna Bligh and Andrew Fraser get their way.
“The Brisbane – Cairns route needs a rapid rail system as much as the Melbourne – Brisbane corridor, especially for the Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay, to service a rapidly growing population and take trucks and passengers off the Bruce Highway.
“Federal and State Governments need to take serious steps to develop a standard gauge system in Queensland that will deliver frequent, rapid passenger and freight services to Maryborough, Gympie and the Sunshine Coast. Queensland lags the rest of the world in efficient rail transport because of the limitations of its narrow gauge rail system.
“The State Government should investigate selling off part of the rail easements to private interests to fund modernisation of the rail services that belong to the Queensland taxpayer. Instead, under Ms Bligh’s and Mr Fraser’s plan, passenger timetables will be affected by the coal industry’s priorities.
“The Government’s focus should be on fast rail, which will be an economic boon to the region in a low carbon future. A fast train plan could provide hundreds of jobs in Maryborough and Gympie if the State Government had a commitment to regional development and ensured that the rolling stock continued to be manufactured in Maryborough, instead of exporting the industry to China.
“High speed access to South-East Queensland markets will do as much to stimulate local industries and small business as the National Broadband Network.”
Dr McDonald said that the Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Anthony Albanese should include South-East Queensland and EDI Rail in the feasibility study for high speed rail.
“This is what the Greens mean by green jobs. Rail will always be more efficient and less polluting than motor vehicles. And it would provide jobs in the region. We need to think beyond existing frameworks. A high speed rail system would form a significant component of a low carbon economy in the region.”
River pollution from a coal mine in NSW south of Sydney confirms the concerns that the Greens have for the prospect of coalmining in the Wide Bay electorate.
The Greens candidate for Wide Bay, Dr Jim McDonald, said that an independent water quality report by researchers from the University of Western Sydney has shown contaminated water from an underground coalmine near Appin is flowing into the Georges River, south of Sydney [Sydney Morning Herald 4 August 2010]
He said that the report concludes that the levels of contamination are toxic to aquatic life. These are the real threats faced by proposals that would turn the Wide Bay electorate into another Hunter Valley.
Proposed open-cut coalmines at Tiaro, Munna Creek, which flows into the Mary River, and the Colton Coal Mine near Maryborough will affect the ecosystems of the Susan River and Saltwater Creek, Munna Creek and the Mary River itself.
The potential damage to the Mary River and Hervey Bay eco-systems of mine run-off on will affect the farming economy along the river system, the tourism industry in Maryborough and the world listed Great Sandy Straits wetlands reserve at the mouth of the Mary River. It will undermine the viability of the Great Sandy Biosphere, which aims at sustainable development in the region.
These dangers, the effect on regional agricultural productivity and the tourism industry, the effect on community health of coalmines, and the need to stimulate industries in a low carbon economy are the compelling reasons why the Greens oppose coal mining in the Wide Bay electorate.
"No world leader can ignore the planet's population burden. There were 3 billion people when Kevin Rudd was born. There are 6.8 billion now. There will be 9 billion by mid-century. This population boom is not economic wisdom, it is a recipe for planetary exhaustion and great human tragedy."
Bob Brown, September 2009
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