Sunday, May 28, 2017

Warren Truss silent on coalmining devastation of Mary Valley

Posted by Jim on March 26, 2011

Online comment on article in Daily Telegraph, Australia keeps selling off the farm”:

If Warren Truss spent as much time looking after his farming and regional constituency, thinking positively about a real food security policy, as he does advocating against mining taxes on behalf of his mates in the coalmining lobby, perhaps less of this would be happening. The Mary Valley in his own electorate – some of it good farming land – faces devastation on a Hunter Valley scale from coalmining and CSG.  What has Warren said about it? Nothing.

Jim McDonald,  26 March 2011

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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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Protection needed for Mary River from coalmines

Posted by Jim on August 13, 2010

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

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Coal cartel will ruin the future of Queensland’s rail system

Posted by Jim on August 12, 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.”

Jim McDonald, Media Release, 12 August 2010

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Greens candidate says funding arrangements fail joint surgery patients

Posted by Jim on August 5, 2010

The restoration of funding for joint surgery by the Queensland Government is a welcome announcement, said Dr Jim McDonald, the Greens candidate for Wide Bay. He was commenting on a report in yesterday’s Sunshine Coast Daily [that the Queensland Government had allocated $1 million to the hospital for joint surgery].

“However,” he said, “The fact that funding had not been available for a year and a half illustrates that the health system urgently needs reform to adequately service the region. Noosa needs a better arrangement than stop-and-go funding of medical procedures for public patients.

“The Federal Government’s takeover of health was announced by the former Prime Minister, Mr Rudd, with great fanfare, but it was short on details. One decent reform measure would be to review the conditions that are presently listed as elective surgery. The definitions of what is ‘elective’ hide the true nature of waiting lists – the real suffering of public health patients.

“Joint surgery should not be regarded as elective. It can be extremely painful and when it is, it severely affects the patient’s quality of life in the degree of pain experienced and their mobility. If the patient with joint pain is working, it will affect an employee’s productivity. There are, therefore, other hidden economic costs in the failure to adequately and consistently fund the procedures.”

Dr McDonald said that he had had hip replacement surgery at Noosa Hospital 22 months ago. “The pain was excruciating at times and I was hobbling around like an old man before the operation. If they experience the effects that I did, then public patients on the Noosa waiting list have been put through hell for the past 18 months.

“If I am elected I will be urging the removal of joint replacement surgery from the list of conditions for elective surgery and ongoing funding for the necessary joint surgery program at Noosa Hospital.”

Media Release, 4 August 2010

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Kin Kin Quarry: What Anna Bligh said on Kin Kin development

Posted by Jim on August 2, 2010

Proposals to allow the expansion of the Kin Kin quarry raise issues about its suitability in the Kin Kin district.  The following are comments made by the former Minister for Infrastructure and now Premier about the Titanium tourist project, which are relevant to the quarry:

“I need to be satisfied the proposed size and location is consistent with the intent of the SEQ Regional Plan.

“The site includes good quality agricultural land and areas of significant biodiversity value – the very areas the SEQ Regional Plan was established to protect.

“The Regional Plan is our safeguard to ensure growth in SEQ is managed in a sensible fashion. It protects more than 80 per cent of the region from urban development while providing for better land use, environmental protection, improved connections between homes and infrastructure and sustainable use of resources such as water and energy.”

“Ms Bligh said her decision followed a rigorous assessment process by the State Government and Noosa Shire Council. The development application has been the subject of deliberation by numerous agencies since it was lodged in November 2005….”

[Noosa Shire Council] refused the application, citing reasons including that the application was in conflict with their own planning scheme….
[Ministerial Media Statement, 18 April 2007]

Ms Bligh said in Parliament last year:

“No wonder the expert planning advice I received as part of the call-in said that ‘the proposed development would introduce inappropriate levels of development’ and that ‘the site has significant biodiversity values’ and ‘there is no overriding public interest to justify the conversion of this land to non-rural development’.”

As State departments dither on the quarry, why are not the same principles being applied by the the Council and State Government on this issue?

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Greens candidate challenges sitting member on environmental questions

Posted by Jim on August 1, 2010

The Federal member, Mr Truss, has so far failed to voice his considered opinion on a range of issues that would impact on the economy, the social fabric, the environmental health, and the lifestyle of the population in the Wide Bay electorate.

Central to all of these concerns is the health of the Mary River. The Mary River is an iconic artery that runs through the electorate and there are many issues that could have detrimental impacts on river flows, the estuarine areas, and the Great Sandy Straits. The flow of the Mary River is integral to the health of the seagrass fields in the heritage protected Great Sandy wetlands.

Just as the region is recovering from the Traveston Dam debacle, the Mary River faces threats from three massive open-cut coal mines alongside the Susan River tributary near Aldershot, at Tiaro, and Munna Creek. In addition, the State Government proposes to divert water from the Mary River.

Munna Creek in Wide Bay electorate flows into Mary River Photo: Jim McDonald

Would Mr Truss support the Federal Government rejecting State Government plans to transfer water from the Mary River to Brisbane by applying the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in a Coalition Government?

When is he going to stand up for the residents of Aldershot, and come out in opposition to plans to discharge coalmine waste-water into the river system, which might affect fisheries and the Great Sandy Strait?

Mr Truss has had a lot to say about bridges in the lead-up to the election, but we are yet to hear his views on the risks to the river of proposed bridges over the Mary River at Traveston Crossing, which is planned to follow the approximate line of the former proposed dam wall, and Coles Creek?

It is incontestable that waste water from coalmines, the groundwater effects on the Susan River of the Colton Coal Mine, and State Government water diversion will harm the environmental flows in the Mary River, affecting the marine environment in Hervey Bay and the Sandy Straits, and the tourist and fishing industries. The health of the Mary River is not something a responsible Member could remain silent about.

Letter published Gympie Times, Saturday, 31 July 2010

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Kin Kin quarry approval crazily indifferent to community

Posted by Jim on July 29, 2010

The Wide Bay Greens candidate, Jim McDonald, said he is perplexed as to how Councillors and the Sunshine Coast Council can allow a mega quarry to gear up in Kin Kin. The Council has approved a large quarry developed for concrete aggregate at the end of Shepparson’s lane alongside the Noosa Trail Network.

“The roads into Kin Kin village are basically country lanes. The main route from Pomona is not even wide enough for line marking and includes three single lane bridges. There is a requirement for quarry approvals to cover provisions for haulage. That has clearly not happened in Kin Kin.

“The road system is too small for quarry trucks and highway entry is on one of the worst black spots on the Bruce Highway near Pomona. Sunshine Coast Council seems to have broken its own rules. The heavy haulage traffic that the expansion of the quarry will bring will endanger the lives of everyone who travels on Kin Kin district’s roads. That’s a dereliction of duty in ensuring due care in managing the roads.

“Were Mayor Bob Abbott and local Councillor Lew Brennan asleep on the job? The proposal for a large quarry has been on the table for a couple of years.

“A large tourist project had been dumped by Anna Bligh when she was the Minister for Infrastructure because Kin Kin didn’t have the infrastructure. It would never have brought the heavy trucks that the quarry will bring, yet the Titanium project was rejected.

“Now the Council and the State Government are paying pass the parcel, while residents are rightly fearful and annoyed by the intransigence of the Council and the failures of the Environment Protection Authority and the Department of Environment and Resource Management.

“Inappropriate coalmining and quarrying in the Wide Bay electorate represent a major threat to residents’ lifestyle, regional infrastructure, and the environment. They undermine the efforts of the Noosa and the Great Sandy Biospheres to inject a sustainable approach to conservation and resource utilisation.

“In the Kin Kin case, this breach of principle is nothing short of a crazy indifference to the community.”

Jim McDonald media release, 29 July 2010

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Wide Bay Greens Candidate supports university students

Posted by Jim on July 21, 2010

I have pledged my support for students as follows:

If elected as the member for Wide Bay, I pledge to use my vote in the parliament to:

  1. Increase funding for universities
  2. Create a more equitable system of student income support
  3. Support student representative organisations
  4. Deliver affordable student accommodation

Jim McDonald
Greens Candidate for Wide Bay

As a former academic, I am appalled that the Labor Government failed to restore the levels of support for student organisations that existed before their removal by the Howard Government.  University is a very special experience and personal growth can be enhanced by student involvement outside the lecture hall and the tutorial room.  Many politicians, such as former Treasurer, Peter Costello, who voted out support for student bodies, benefitted personally from experience in student organisations.

Funding for universities in research, teaching and facilities must be increased as a fundamental investment in knowledge, innovation, science, culture, Australia’s prosperity, and the people of our country.  Presently, there needs to be an increase in accessibility to the university experience for students in the regions.  That experience is potentially undermined by large staff-student ratios.  Regional universities in particular have high ratios of lecturers to students and that affects both on-campus teaching and distance education.  Additional funding should address improvements in the number of teaching staff in universities.

On 22 July, Senator Hanson-Young announced a four-point plan to help tackle student poverty and housing affordability.

Comment, Jim McDonald, 21 July 2010

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Kin Kin Community Group fights inappropriate quarry

Posted by Jim on July 18, 2010

What is it about mining and quarrying that brings out the worst in corporations and in all levels of government and the best in communities? Community groups in the Mary Valley, Aldershot and Kin Kin are great examples in the Wide Bay electorate of community resilience and wonderful skills quickly learned and applied.

Kin Kin Community Group briefing Saturday, 17 July 2010

Kin Kin Community Group briefing Saturday, 17 July 2010. Photo, Jim McDonald

The Kin Kin Community Group has been fighting approvals given to a small quarry by the Sunshine Coast Regional Council and the State Government to expand into a very large quarry.

Last week, as if to thumb its nose at the community and the legal case before the court, a large section of the quarry was blasted by the operators.

Premier Anna Bligh had refused an application for a large tourist complex when she was Infrastructure Minister because the infrastructure did not support such a large enterprise near the small village of Kin Kin.

The same narrow winding roads, which are not even wide enough for line marking and have single lane bridges, and will carry large quarry trucks if the quarry is allowed to go ahead, were not adequate for a large commercial tourist operation.

It has to be asked, what role has the Divisional Councillor and the Mayor played in the promotion of the Quarry expansion where up to 40 trucks a day will thunder down Kin Kin’s roads?

The Greens have already backed the community and yesterday the Greens candidate for Wide Bay, Jim McDonald, the Greens candidate for Groom, Frida Forsberg, Michael Kane from the Queensland Greens Management Committee, and the Wide Bay Campaign Manager, Bob Borsellino, were briefed on developments in Kin Kin.

Kin Kin 17 July

Members of Kin Kin Community Group and Greens representatives on site in Kin Kin

Jim McDonald promised his ongoing support for the community group in fighting the quarry and The Greens are planning additional political support for the campaign against the mega quarry.

While campaigns such as Kin Kin’s fight against the expansion of the quarry bring out the best in communities, it also brings out nasty elements.  Someone supporting the quarry has systematically destroyed community signs against the quarry:

ripped sign

One of the signs destroyed by vandals supporting quarry. Photo, Jim McDonald

Similar dirty tricks are played out in Aldershot, where community notices and noticeboards against the Colton Coal Mine are regularly destroyed and damaged by night vandals.

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