Yesterday’s accident at Arrow Energy’s gas well near Dalby, where a coal seam gas well exploded, is another incident which should tell the Bligh Government to suspend coal seam gas extraction [CSG] in Queensland immediately.
Coal seam gas exploration wells have been drilled in the Mary Valley near Munna Creek not far from Gympie. We suspect that exploration drilling along the Coondoo Creek near Wolvi is likewise for CSG.
CSG extraction is highly risky for health, water resources and farm production as we have seen in Gaslands, 4Corners and in events on the Darling Downs, such as the fourth well explosion at Arrow Energy near Dalby:
The Mary Valley, Darling Downs and the South Burnett are all rich food producing areas that must be protected.
In calling for a moratorium on CSG – a principle that must apply to the intentions of coal miners to turn the Mary Valley into a Queensland version of the environmentally damaged Hunter Valley – Bob Brown said the Australian Greens will move to amend federal laws to add climate and coal seam gas triggers to the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act, so the cumulative impacts of this new industry are properly considered before approval is given.
With Queensland Green Senator-elect, Larissa Waters, due to take her seat in a few weeks together with a number of other new Greens senators, the Greens will be in a position to strengthen calls to suspend CSG extraction. Meanwhile, Wide Bay Federal MP and leader of the National Party remains silent about protecting the Mary Valley from coalmining and CSG. Likewise there is deafening silence from Gympie State MP, David Gibson, who actually voted against a moratorium in the State parliament on 24 November last year, voting with the Bligh Labor Government [see Hansard for 24 November, p. 4287]. This is what Mr Gibson voted for:
That this House:
• notes that the CSG industry has been operating successfully in Queensland for at least 10 years;
• acknowledges the extensive laws and regulations that the CSG industry is now subject to in Queensland;
• recognises the substantial benefits that will accrue to rural and regional Queensland from the development of this industry;
• supports the ongoing development of a sustainable CSG/LNG industry in Queensland; and
• supports the adaptive management regime in place to ensure the ongoing monitoring of the environment.
It was a sell-out of the farming sector, rural communities the environment, the Artesian Basin and our grandchildren’s future. Mr Gibson, who made a speech in Parliament opposing the Traveston Dam, by his silence does not seem to think that coalmining and CSG extraction will be as damaging – if not more so – to the Mary River as the proposed dam.
The Greens opposed Traveston Dam and Bob Brown articulated the Greens’ concerns about the degradation of the river that would have occurred from the dam. His comments apply equally to mining along the Mary River and its tributaries:
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.
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
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.
Tiaro Coal Limited is focussing on the development of a coal mine at Munna Creek.
Munna Creek flows into Mary River Photo Jim McDonald
Munna Creek has a catchment area of 1475 square kilometres. There are problems with weeds infesting wetlands along its course. But, this Mary River tributary faces its greatest threat: the development of open cut coalmines.
The Greens oppose coal mines in the Wide Bay electorate. What’s your position, Mr Truss?
Comment: Jim McDonald, Greens Candidate for Wide Bay, 29 June 2010
"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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