Sunday, May 28, 2017

Pressure on one is pressure on all

Posted by Jim on July 15, 2010

I refer to the article on the greater chance of patients dying prematurely from cancer in the region than Brisbane patients [Fraser Coast Chronicle, 12 July 2010].

The Federal Government has distributed funding for cancer centres in marginal seats. Thus the Wide Bay electorate missed out on an upgrade to cancer treatment – politics before cancer services.

The former Prime Minister called changes to health funding a health revolution. If it was a revolution it has bypassed our region.

There is an urgent need for a review of health services in the Wide Bay electorate. Maryborough and Gympie hospitals need upgrading and funding for public patients in Noosa Hospital increased. Pressure on one hospital is pressure on all of them.

The fact that dialysis patients in Maryborough have to travel to Gympie indicates a shameful breakdown in health services in the region.

The Greens call for a proper caring approach from the Federal Government to the health of Australians in the region.

Jim McDonald
Greens candidate
Wide Bay Electorate

Letter, Fraser Coast Chronicle, Published 14 July 2010

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More reasons why coalmines and towns don’t mix

Posted by Jim on July 13, 2010

A NSW State Government report on air quality, noise levels and drinking water issues has found that coal mines near Camberwell in the Hunter Valley, NSW, have been exposing locals to an excessive level of dust.

The study found daily dust concentrations exceeded standards during 2008 between 10 and 30 days at different monitoring stations in and near Camberwell.  Noise levels were close to exceeding acceptable levels, and the report found they could rise further if the mines were expanded.  However, the research revealed there is no evidence of high lead levels in drinking water in rainwater tanks.

One of the coal mines is further from Camberwell than the Colton Coal Mine will be from Aldershot and, like the reserves near Aldershot, are metallurgical coal deposits.

Jim McDonald, 13 July 2010
Sources:
iPrime Newcastle; Camberwell Metallurgical Coal Mine

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Greens Wide Bay candidate urges Federal Minister to intervene on Colton Coal Mine

Posted by Jim on July 10, 2010

I have writen to the Federal Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett, pointing out the environmental risks associated with the Colton Coal Mine outside Maryborough and Aldershot:

Dear Minister

Northern Energy Corporation plans to develop a 200 metre deep open-cut coal mine adjacent to the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar wetland in Hervey Bay. It is 3 km from the Susan River that flows into the Mary River and forms the Ramsar boundary. It is 3 km from the town of Aldershot and 7 km from Maryborough. The Corporation plans to pump excess water from a coalwash plant that is capable of processing 1.5 million tons of coal a year to Saltwater Creek that also flows into the Mary River estuary. This represents a major environmental threat as well as a health threat to nearby communities.

You refused approval for the Traveston Dam in the Mary Valley among other reasons “because it had the potential to impact on nationally listed threatened species, migratory species, the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar wetland, and the World Heritage values of Fraser Island.”

The Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands on your Department’s website says the area covers significant seagrass habitat, which is “likely to be one of the most important habitat components for maintenance of the present ecological health and diversity exhibited by the region.”

These areas act as nursery and feeding grounds for prawns and fish, and feeding grounds for dugong and turtles. The Information Sheet also records sightings of Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphins [Sousa Chinensis], pilot whales and false killer whales in the region.

Those Ramsar wetlands have come under an even greater threat from coalmining. Northern Energy Corporation has completed drilling assays in the Wallum landscape behind Hervey Bay and has applied to the Queensland Government for a mining lease for the establishment of a 100 million tonnes plus open-cut coal mine close to the Susan River boundary of the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar wetland.

The Susan River is critical to the health of the Great Sandy wetlands in the Mary River estuary. It has a small but significant inflow into the estuary and the wetlands. At least two species of dolphin, the bottlenose dolphin and the common dolphin use the Susan River.

The Susan River is a Queensland Declared Fish habitat. According to the Information Sheet, the Susan River and Maroom Fish Habitat Areas combine to protect (in part) tidal lands of approximately 28,000 ha in the centre of Great Sandy Strait.

The Susan river is also home to six species of mangroves, which are used extensively for honey production by commercial beekeepers.

The Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia listed potential threats from the levels of chemical pollutants and turbidity/siltation in the system as a result of increased urbanisation and agricultural activities. The threat of heavy metals and other pollutants from an open-cut coal mine intensifies the threats to the integrity of the ecology of the wetlands.

I therefore call upon you to intervene in accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 before an election is called to prevent this mine being approved when the Government is in caretaker mode.

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Greens support Kin Kin residents’ objections to quarry

Posted by Jim on June 30, 2010

In 2007, Anna Bligh, then Minister for Infrastructure refused an application for the development of a $400 million tourism development in the village of Kin Kin.  Not only did she say that the project was in conflict with the SEQ regional plan, which allows for smaller tourism businesses such as farm stays and Bed and Breakfast establishments, but she also pointed out, “The region just doesn’t have the infrastrucure to support a development of this size.”

The Kin Kin district doesn’t have the infrastructure for up to 40 trucks a day carrying up to 42 tonnes of rock on the roads either.  Kin Kin is notorious for the narrow winding roads that lead to the town.  Roads in and out of Kin Kin will become a death trap.

Today I visited this quiet little corner and saw Sunshine Coast Regional Council surveyors marking out the road leading from the quarry to the Kin Kin – Wolvi Road for an upgrade.  There is nothing in the Main Roads budget for improving the roads. And, this is despite the Council and Kin Kin residents about to face each other in court.

Wahpunga Creek flows off a ridge, past the quarry, and eventually into Kin Kin Creek, which in turn flows into the Noosa River.  The Department of Environment doesn’t call this a stream!

Walpinga Creek

Wahpunga Creek: Qld Dep't of Environment & Resource Management says this is not a creek! Photo Jim McDonald

When it rains, it is quite clear from the next photograph that the stream suffers from quarry run-off.  This flows eventually through to  Kin Kin Creek and Noosa River.  This case is an example of tricksy, bureaucratic nonsense emanating from Departments whose function is to protect the environment, but whose arbitrary decisions are ultimately harmful to residents and the environment.  This is what the quarry did to the Wahpunga Creek after rain:

Wahpunga Creek with quarry run-off

Wahpunga Creek downstream from quarry after rain; clear surface water flowing from neighbour's property Photo Maree Glasby

By the way, the road being surveyed, Sheppersons Lane, is part of the Noosa Trail Network!

There are some complicated issues about the legality of the quarry, which has been a small part-time quarry for years.  But, the central issue is that accessibility issues have the seeds of tragedy in them if this small quarry is upscaled. Meanwhile, the lessee forges ahead.

Kin Kin Quarry

Drilling proceeds for expanding Kin Kin Quarry, 30 June 2010 Photo Jim McDonald

The Greens support the Kin Kin community, which has been working hard to prevent their roads being overrun by large trucks that have no place in their small hamlet.  Your Wide Bay candidate, Jim McDonald, called on the LNP Opposition spokesperson on the environment, the Hon Glen Elmes, to get moving on the issue.  This needs real action to prevent a disastrous result for Kin Kin and district residents.

Jim McDonald, Greens Candidate, Wide Bay, 30 June 2010

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Patient trips show need for real hospital reform

Posted by Jim on June 23, 2010

The fact that Maryborough patients have to travel to Maryborough for dialysis treatment is indicative of the need for real reform of the hospital system in the Wide bay Electorate according to the Greens candidate for Wide Bay, Dr Jim McDonald.

“Dialysis patients often need more than one session a week and travelling up and down the Bruce Highway for treatment is appalling, especially when patients requiring dialysis are feeling unwell.

“The neglect of health is also felt in the west of the electorate. Cancer patients in towns like Murgon and Goomeri have to take a return journey of up to 500 kilometres to Toowoomba for some cancer treatments and tests. That is not a system that is designed for patients.

“Free transport offered dialysis patients by the Queensland Minister for Health is not the central issue. Patient well-being is what it should be about and long, arduous trips for treatment or tests fail that criterion.

“Hospital and clinical resources in the whole of the Wide Bay electorate are poorly organised and it amounts to Government neglect of public patients.”

Dr McDonald said that the Rudd Government’s so-called health reforms must address the question of access to health services.

“Patients need reform rather than rhetoric. Real reform will drive an upgrade of Maryborough and Gympie hospitals to improve services across the electorate.

“Pressure on one hospital is a pressure on all the hospitals in our region. With population growth pushing up from the Sunshine Coast into Gympie, the situation will escalate.

“Communities need to have confidence that the smaller hospitals are not under any threat and expansion of services in the larger hospitals should reduce the need for trips to Brisbane except in cases of the highest medical emergency.”

“Real reform will address the present inequality of health service delivery in our region compared with the metropolitan area.

“But when Mr Rudd travelled to regional Queensland with health hand-outs, he ignored the electorate. Wide Bay is not a marginal Labor seat.

Media Release: 22 June 2010; letter published, Gympie Times, 23 June 2010

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The Arts and Wide Bay Issues – Interview Noosa Community Radio

Posted by Jim on May 30, 2010

From Noosa Community radio:

Sometime this year there’s going to be a national election, and those chasing seats in Canberra are throwing their hats in the ring. Most of our audience probably live in the electorate of Wide Bay, which covers Weyba Downs and Peregian Beach in the southeast, Fraser Island in the northeast, from Booubyjan in the northwest to the township of Cherbourg in the southwest and Bella Creek in the south. Since March 1990 – that’s 20 years – the seat has been held by Warren Truss, leader of The Nationals, who held various ministries in the Howard government for 10 years. You’d be forgiven for thinking Warren owns Wide Bay. Enter David to challenge Goliath: Greens candidate, Jim McDonald, who’s started stomping the electorate. At a recent little gathering here in The J, next door to us, he put his case for more funding of the arts in the regions – that’s us, for example. That, of course, is not the former union official, teacher and jack of a few more trades’ only platform. I asked him why he was emphasising the arts.

Download MP3 recording of interview with Diet Simon, Interview recorded 2 May 2010

Noosa Community Radio

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Young voters urged to enrol without delay

Posted by Jim on May 25, 2010

Young voters who will turn 18 before the end of the year should enrol with the Australian Electoral Commission as soon as possible to ensure they get a vote in the 2010 Federal Election.  However, while 17 year olds can enrol, they are not eligible to vote until they turn 18.

The Greens candidate for Wide Bay, Dr Jim McDonald, said that he was afraid that many new voters would put off enrolling because no-one except the Prime Minister had a clue when he was going to call an election.  And it would be easy to miss out.

“I would encourage all young people who are 17 years old and whose 18th birthday is before the end of the year to enrol early.”

Dr McDonald said the electoral rolls will close only three days after an election is called and a writ issued.

This limitation was introduced by the Howard Government and it has been left there by the Rudd Government.

“The provision makes it easy for the youngest voters to miss out,” he said.

Voters can find enrolment forms through the following outlets:

  • Any Post Office or Australia Post outlet;
  • Medicare;
  • Centrelink;
  • Australian Taxation Office outlets;
  • The Australian Electoral Office in Telstra House [Arcade], 277-281 Adelaide St., MARYBOROUGH QLD 4650.  There are no other electoral offices in Gympie or Noosa.  However, you can pick up an electoral form in Nambour at the Australian Electoral Office, Commonwealth Government Centre, cnr Maud & Currie Sts., NAMBOUR QLD 4560
  • Download a form from https://forms.australia.gov.au/forms/aec/Electoral%20enrolment/ or
  • Ring: 13 23 26 to order a form.

If you are a new young voter and you are both 17 years old and an Australian citizen, you may enrol before your 18th birthday, but you are not entitled to vote until you turn 18.

If your 18th birthday falls between the announcement of the election [that is, date of the writ] and polling day and you have not already applied for provisional enrolment, you have until the close of rolls 3 days after the election is called to apply for enrolment. After that, you will not be able to vote in the 2010 election.

So the window for enrolling is a small one.

You should check the information required on the enrolment form to ensure you have satisfied all the requirements and/or visit the Australian Electoral Commission web page for further information.

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