Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Greens call for a moratorium on coal seam gas

Posted by Jim on May 23, 2011

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:

CSG well blow-out near Dalby

Greens leader, Bob Brown, last year criticised the Federal Government for not considering the impacts of CSG on prime food producing land.

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:

 

For more on coal and coal seam gas visit Action on Coal and Gas,a project of the Rural and regional Greens.

Jim McDonald, Wide Bay Greens spokesperson, 24 May 2011

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State and Federal Governments betray Australia on food security

Posted by Jim on January 20, 2011

The Federal and State Governments are betraying Australia’s interests by allowing large scale buyouts of top quality agricultural land in this country, according to the Greens Spokesperson for Noosa and Wide Bay , Dr Jim McDonald.

He said it was already happening on the Sunshine Coast. Dr McDonald was commenting on a report in the Noosa News [18 January 2011] on a multi-national corporation’s purchase of the Yalanga property near Kin Kin by Nexis Holdings, increasing its holdings on the Sunshine Coast to 2,140 hectares. Nexis bought up 500 hectares in two macadamia farms on the Coast early last year.

Dr McDonald said, “Under present foreign acquisition rules, foreign companies are buying up large tracts of land in anticipation of the effects of climate change on world food production. If that continues, Australia will not only become the world’s quarry, but will have lost control of its food production to foreign interests.

In the past few years, the Federal Government has sat on its thumbs while corporations owned by foreign governments have bought prime land as part of their food security strategy. Under current rules Nexis has no obligation to submit its purchase of Yalanga to the Foreign Investment Review Board for a reported $25 million because it is under the FIRB limit of $231 million. Yet the Nexis purchase is part of a strategy to buy up half a billion dollars worth of land in Northern NSW and Queensland.”

He said that the Nexis announcement on Yalanga, which is only a few kilometres from Boreen Point, left its future intentions unclear. Nexis does not have an agricultural base and recently bought up 50 percent equity in a limestone quarry in NSW for prefabricated concrete building panels.

It is an outrage against the nation that there is presently no Federal strategy to protect the best agricultural land from foreign control and no cohesive food security strategy as a hedge against climate change. At the same time, the Queensland Government allows mining and coal seam gas exploration to degrade our best land.

Examples of foreign government controlled corporations buying up agricultural land include Hassad Food, which is part of the Qatar Government’s Investment Authority. Hassad Food last year bought up 165,000 hectares of a group of NSW grazing properties and is buying properties on a global scale as a direct part of Qatar’s strategy of building food security against future pressures on food production.

In another case, Shenhua Watermark Coal Pty Ltd, has bought up prime farmland for open cut coal mining on the Liverpool Plains in NSW. Shenhua is a subsidiary of the China Shenhua Energy Company, which is 68% owned by the Chinese Government.

State and Federal Governments also betray our region by failing to produce a strategy for food security in South-East Queensland. Government-owned farmland in the Mary Valley lies fallow and there is no thought given to developing the region in a post carbon economy.

South Australian Senator, Nick Xenophon, has introduced a private members bill to require FIRB scrutiny of foreign purchase of land over 5 hectares. Dr McDonald said this required all significant foreign purchases to be scrutinised. He said a failure to develop a food security strategy would leave open the possibility of FIRB rubber-stamping the sale of land, which should be reserved first for feeding Australia’s growing population let alone Australian companies exporting the surplus to the rest of the world.

Jim McDonald, Greens Spokesperson, Wide Bay Federal Electorate, Media Release, 18 January 2011

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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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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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Moy Pocket an explosive issue

Posted by Jim on August 27, 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.

We have concerns which others have raised regarding the integrity of the habitat on Kenilworth Bluff and maintaining the visual heritage of the bluff.  We note that the quarry owner has previously not applied for government permits to clear remnant forest, and the then manager threatened to bulldoze extensive areas of forested land the company owned on Kenilworth Bluff. “and turn this into the biggest eyesore you’ve ever seen”.

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.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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Population planning responsible and necessary

Posted by Jim on April 5, 2010

Clive Newton [Sunshine Coast Daily, 25 March] seems to be quite comfortable with uncontrolled growth in our region and accuses the paper of adopting The Greens’ policy on population growth. Far from being “bizarre” as he describes it, planning policy is self-evidently responsible and necessary.

In The Green’s policy on Australia’s population, one of the key questions for planning at both national and regional levels is sustainability. This is about questions such as whether there is sufficient water for the region and whether waste is manageable without destroying habitat, undermining water quality, and alienating productive land.

This is not just a question of how big a population the Sunshine Coast can support. That planning would take into consideration the ability of the region to provide adequate social services, accessible health facilities, and adequate public transportation infrastructure.

Sustainable growth and its management must therefore address the social justice and equity implications of regional planning, ensuring in the development of South East Queensland communities that families can rely on stable work opportunities with decent wages and conditions, for example. Or that opportunity and equity for all generations is achieved. There is no point in allowing huge growth in our regions if it creates poverty and isolation of families.

Jim McDonald
Queensland Greens Candidate
Wide Bay Electorate

Letter to editor, Sunshine Coast Daily, 26 March 2010

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