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Greens call on Gympie Regional Council to oppose coalmining and Coal Seam Gas extraction in the Mary River Valley

Posted by Jim on December 14, 2010

The Greens spokesperson for the Wide Bay Federal Electorate, Dr Jim McDonald, has called on the Gympie Regional Council to stand up to mining interests in the Mary River Valley.

He said there is a serious threat of coal seam gas [CSG] extraction in the Mary River Valley and drilling exploration had commenced in Wolvi.

“People should not be complacent about their region,” he said. “The Fraser Coast Council this week announced its support for CSG exploration in Hervey Bay. It is not impossible that some Gympie councillors won’t likewise be seduced by the coal industry’s spin.

“Tiaro Coal has already commenced CSG exploration at Munna Creek and the company recently started exploration drilling in the Wolvi district. Coalmining and CSG extraction irreversibly destroys the aquifers, uses huge amounts of water, and creates problems with storage of contaminated water.

“One of the issues that people don’t think about is what happens to the water allocations when mining companies buy out farming land. If the coal companies get their way they will control the Mary River and its tributaries. Coalmining and CSG extraction in the Mary Valley will utilise millions of megalitres of water a year if mining is allowed to go ahead.

“Mining along the Mary River and its tributaries within the Gympie Regional Council boundaries and further downstream will turn the region into the Hunter Valley. That is a far greater threat to the Mary River Valley and its communities than the Traveston Dam ever was.”

Dr McDonald, who has just returned from touring the Hunter Valley and the Darling Downs speaking to residents, shopkeepers and farmers, said the region’s Councils and people were too complacent about the mounting threats to the Mary Valley from coal and CSG interests. “Already farmers and communities in the Wandoan district face huge open-cut mines and some farms already have CSG wells dug on their properties.

“It will happen here and when it does, that will be the end of the Mary Valley forever and all the excellent work done to protect the viability of the Mary River and its communities will have been for nothing.

“You have to ask what the State member for Gympie, David Gibson, and the Federal Member, Warren Truss, are doing. They turned up at Traveston Dam protests, but their silence on coal and gas mining speaks volumes about their true environmental credentials.

“There’s a lot of rot spoken about coalmining bringing jobs and prosperity. In fact, it reduces agricultural productivity, alienates good cropping and grazing land forever, destroys property values and communities, and does little to stimulate retail businesses. Coalmining is a toxic threat environmentally, socially and economically.

“Gympie businesses might be seduced by the prospects of mining coming to the region but coalmining and CSG will wreck the Mary Valley for the sake of a relatively few jobs, the bulk of which will go to skilled and experienced workers and contractors from outside the the region. This happens at Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley. Retail outlets are struggling. Over the weekend the miners not on shift have left town. Muswellbrook is only 220 km from Sydney, about the same distance Gympie is from Brisbane. Coalmining offers little true benefit to Gympie’s economy.”

Jim McDonald, Greens Spokesperson, Wide Bay Federal Electorate, media release

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Mining and gas expansion will lead to further job losses

Posted by admin on December 10, 2010

Australian Bureau of Statistics employment figures for Queensland which were released yesterday and show that more jobs were lost in Queensland than created are no surprise, according to the Queensland Greens.

‘Each time the Premier or Treasurer announce some new mining or gas drilling development in regional Queensland, it increases uncertainty for existing agricultural and tourism sectors,’ Queensland Greens spokesperson, Libby Connors pointed out.

‘Why would anyone invest in agriculture or related agrifood businesses when the Premier publicly states that she intends to protect only ‘the best of the best’ of Queensland’s cropping lands?

‘We’re in the midst of a good rainfall season but these major sectors of the Queensland economy are being hemmed in by new coal mines and gas wells in the state’s richest agricultural lands.

‘The outlook is not much better for tourism.  The Australian dollar is one factor but so is the expansion of coal ports north and south of Queensland’s finest coastal resorts in the  Whitsundays and proposals for coal mines and coal seam gas near Wide Bay.

‘No tourists want to view the beautiful Queensland coast through coal heaps, coal dust and gas infrastructure.’

‘Reckless expansion by one sector of the economy is endangering and narrowing the state’s economic base but both major parties have no vision about how to develop a diverse economy in a post-carbon world.’

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Who is rorting the system?

Posted by Jim on October 31, 2010

At the last Federal election the Liberal National parties made a huge play on voters regarding the number of school buildings being built under the Building the Education Revolution (BER) program. They claimed there was massive rorting of the system.

On Thursday this week the Coalition failed in its bid to pass several motions against the Government to establish a judicial inquiry into this program.

Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne didn’t even turn up to vote on his own bill to force a judicial inquiry into the Government’s schools building program.

Where is the integrity of this man and his party?

I attended a David Helfgott concert recently in their new school hall built through the BER program at the Christian College and I didn’t hear anyone there complain of this great asset for the community.

St Patrick’s College have a new science wing as no doubt all other schools in our area have positively benefited from this scheme.

Builders and associated businesses were able to maintain workers at a time of global uncertainty. Our community wasn’t dragged down into an unemployment vortex that Mr Pyne and his coalition partners would have had us go through.

No doubt there will be those who say where ‘will the money come from’ to pay for this. Without having access to Treasury data I can’t respond, but one project alone the Chevron Gorgon Project in WA is projected to bring in $50billion to the Australian economy over the next 40 years. One would hope that this one project alone would assist balancing the books.

Are people cynical of politicians?

We have proposed coalmines on our doorstep, coal seam gas projects and potential devastation of some of Australia’s best farmlands.

Is Mr Truss and the coalition or Labor responding to these concerns within the electorate. No!

Kent Hutton, Letter to Editor, Gympie Times, 29 October 2010

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Wide Bay Greens spokesperson interviewed on Noosa Community Radio

Posted by Jim on October 29, 2010

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 .

He was also asked to comment on the Moy Pocket Quarry’s plans to become a central depot for explosives in the region.  The Greens made a submission to Gympie Council opposing the project.  This was reported on this website in August.  The interview is recorded on the Noosa Community website here

Jim McDonald, Greens Spokesperson, Wide Bay Federal Electorate, 29 October 2010

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Mr Truss should stop misinforming Queenslanders about the Greens fishing policy

Posted by Jim on October 20, 2010

Mr Truss should stop misinforming Queenslanders about the Greens fishing policy. He cannot know what the Federal Government will do under the Marine Parks inquiry until the reports come in.

The Nationals under Senator Boswell and Mr Truss have whipped up hysteria in response to the patent need to manage Australian fisheries. They and their supporters in the industry have been less than honest in their portrayal of our fishing policy.

The Nationals’ policy states that “greater care must be taken to ensure these delicate eco systems are protected.” But the Nationals have no plans for managing Australia’s fisheries and their subversive campaign against the review is against the national interest with respect to the future of seafood resources and contrary to their own broad statement on fisheries.

The Greens’ comprehensive fishing policy can be accessed online at http://widebaygreens.org/2010/07/570/.

Jim McDonald, Greens Spokesperson, Wide Bay Electorate, posted on mysunshinecoast, 20 October 2010
Letter published, Gympie Times, Saturday 23 October 2010

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The future of Australia’s food production?

Posted by Jim on October 11, 2010

We have raised the imperative for the Mary Valley to be turned into a model food production zone.  We have seen this regional contribution to a national food security strategy as an essential component of population and climate change policy.  Instead, the region faces large scale coalmining as the State Government has given the go-ahead for coal exploration.  If the mining industry gets its way, the first coal mine will commence next year a couple of kilometres from the town of Aldershot, just outside Maryborough, to be followed by Munna Creek and Tiaro.  Now, Tiaro Coal Limited has announced they are about to start exploration drilling in the Wolvi district.

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

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Coal exploration extends into Sunshine Coast

Posted by Jim on October 4, 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

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DERM rejects coalmine’s Environmental Management Plan – Congratulations to Aldershot Community

Posted by Jim on September 30, 2010

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 coalmining issue in our region is not dead, however, and The Greens have already responded to the Tiaro Coal proposals to establish open-cut mines in the Munna Creek area in the Gympie Times.

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

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Greens seek facts and action on Gympie’s Southside Waste Management Facility

Posted by Jim on

The Greens’ spokesperson for the Wide Bay federal electorate has written to the Chairman of the Gympie Regional Council’s Works & Service Committee requesting specific information on the nature of liquid waste, its storage and removal at Gympie’s Southside Waste Management Facility.

In April 2010, the Greens’ Senate candidate Libby Connors raised the issue of dying animals at an adjacent property and it has not been resolved.

According to the Council’s description of this waste facility, the Southside tip does not accept oil or liquid waste.  However, tankers and sullage trucks have been frequently been observed recently, apparently pumping liquid material from a ground tank on this facility, which is not supposed to accept liquid waste at all.

The Greens are concerned both about the environmental impacts of the tip and for the health of neighbours and their animals.

Jim McDonald, Greens Spokesperson, Wide Bay Federal Electorate, 30 September 2010

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Second coalmine to threaten Mary River

Posted by Jim on September 27, 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

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