Posted by Jim on May 18, 2010
It is bad enough when coal mining in Queensland and NSW is allowed by State and Governments to ruin prime agricultural land.
When coalmining threatens to destroy the lifestyle of the 500 residents of Aldershot, just north of Maryborough, it’s time to call a halt.
The escalation of open-cut coal mining is creating environmental and social problems as well as alienating agricultural land. The Colton mine has not yet started, but it will be to the detriment of Aldershot and its residents. The mine will be only 3 kilometres from the village. The Colton project will turn Aldershot and the north of Maryborough into a coalmining town.
This is an example of mining moving from remote regions of the state to more intensively settled areas like Maryborough and Hervey Bay.
Mining coal so close to established towns will also cause health problems. A 2008 study of the effect of coalmining in West Virginia in the USA found that the incidence of chronic illness in coalmining communities grows as coal production increases1.
Coalmining produces carbon dioxide, methane and sulphuric acid as well as dust and will interfere with the water table. The mine will put pressure on water resources in the region. There are wetlands, which the Colton mine will also affect, as well as the Susan River which flows into the Mary River estuary.
Initially the developer, Northern Energy Corporation, told the community in April this year that mining would last 8 to 10 years. That estimate did not add up. In February, the estimated reserve was reported as being 57.4 million tons. NEC says that it will be shipping out 500,000 tonnes of coal a year once the open-cut mine starts up. Do the maths: the mine is good for a century as it spreads to the northern suburbs of Maryborough.
Planning legislation must stop open cut coal mines devastating agricultural areas, near residential areas or near environmentally sensitive areas, especially given the industry’s appalling record on environmental management and site rehabilitation.
1. M Hendryx and M Ahern, “Relations between Health Indicators and Residential Proximity to Coal Mining in West Virginia,” April 2008, The American Journal of Public Health.
Thanks for contribution to this post by Drew Hutton
Posted by Jim on May 11, 2010
The Federal Government should get on with upgrading broadband access in South East Queensland, the Greens candidate for Wide Bay, Dr Jim McDonald said.
“Now Senator Conroy’s $25 million review of implementation of the National Broadband Network [NBN] has come up with smaller cost projections than first estimated, the roll-out should commence without delay.
He said that present internet speeds in much of regional Australia are third world.
“Regional Australians have been treated for too long as second-class internet users.
“The priority should be to start the optical fibre network in areas like South East Queensland.
“And Telstra should cooperate with the Government in saving taxpayers’ funds and in lowering customer costs.
“Telstra negotiators should remember that their primary mission is to provide all Australians with telephony and internet infrastructure.
“That responsibility has not disappeared because Government has part privatised the service, which should never have happened” he said.
Dr McDonald said the Opposition’s position was laughable. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by Jim on April 30, 2010
I am pleased to be working with the team to elect Larissa Waters to the Senate. I expect her to be the first Greens Senator in Queensland.
She will make a quality Senator when she joins the competent women senators in the Greens who have made a significant contribution to the job of governance of this country.
Greens Senate Candidate Larissa Waters and Wide Bay Candidate Jim McDonald talking to the cameras
I have spent the last several weeks talking to people in the Wide Bay electorate from Murgon to Tin Can Bay and from Noosa to Maryborough.
It will be my task as the Greens candidate to bring to the fore the issues that are important to the people in the electorate.
People are sick of the spin doctors. The Greens’ polling on Climate Change makes it quite clear that people want action not spin. They want straight talking not weasel words. They want a vision for Australia not protection of vested interests. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by Jim on April 24, 2010
It is the story out of a bureaucratic hell. Residents in Federal who were not bought out by the Queensland Government in the resumption of land for Traveston Dam are stranded on a virtual island.
Dr Jim McDonald, the Greens candidate for Wide Bay, said, “They are surrounded by the new route of the Bruce Highway between Curra and Cooroy, land owned by the Queensland Government bought up for Traveston Dam, and power lines.
“And after years of pea and thimble planning on the route, a highway designed to skirt what would have been the Traveston Dam has decimated their community.
“The Queensland Government decided with indecent haste on the route nearly two months before the Federal Minister for the Environment canned the Dam.
“Federal residents made it clear in submissions that they preferred upgrading the existing route. The Department of Transport and Main Roads has steamrolled the community. WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by Jim on April 16, 2010
The Bligh Government has used the daylight saving issue to divert people’s attention from privatisation as the closing dates for tenders for the sale of our forests and the railways loom, according to Jim McDonald.
Dr McDonald is the Queensland Greens candidate for the federal Wide Bay electorate.
The introduction of daylight saving as an issue by independent Peter Wellington, Member for Nicklin, is perfect timing if the Premier wanted people to think about something else other than privatisation, he said.
“The Premier knows that her privatisation plans will affect the federal vote. Selling off the forests to foreign interests and the railways to coal interests might lie under State jurisdiction,” he said, “But the sales have national implications.
“Too much of Australia’s resources and infrastructure are going under the hammer to foreign interests and Australians are getting fed up with Governments making it too easy to sell off the farm to overseas companies and individuals.
“I find it interesting that the Premier is using the online social networking tool, Twitter, and inviting people in the regions to let people know what they think about the daylight saving question.
“Why,” he asked, “Did she not do the same for selling off publicly owned assets? It seems to me that, while people certainly have strong opinions about daylight saving, privatisation is a more important issue on which Government MPs might consult with their electorate.”
Posted by Jim on April 15, 2010
So far, what we have heard on Health from the Prime Minister are funding increases and some management tinkering. This does not reform the health system. That’s the view of Dr Jim McDonald, the Greens candidate for the Wide Bay electorate in Queensland.
“A proper review would look at public patients in my electorate having to take a 450km round trip to Toowoomba for some cancer tests and treatment,” he said. “That is unacceptable. The regions covered by Wide Bay can hardly be called remote.”
Dr McDonald said that patients in the regions are being short-changed. “Government and Opposition have failed to look at the real issues, engaging in what they imagine the electorate is concerned about and in the belief that money will gather votes.
“Some fundamental definitions need changing and health funding adjusted to deal with the real world of health care.
“What we hear out of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition is a managerial perspective that deals with dollars. The real world of public health will not be improved by throwing money at a system that is broken because patient care is seen primarily through statistical outcomes that have narrow definitions.
“Talk to public patients who have to wait for hip or knee surgery, for example, and then tell them that the extreme pain they are experiencing only entitles them to join the elective surgery list, but we’ve increased funding. Patients can wait from three months to over a year for a joint replacement because of a bureaucratic vision of Health systems where numbers rule.”
Dr McDonald said he has had hip surgery himself and he knows how acute joint pain can be and the relief that surgery can bring.
“I was fortunate enough to have health insurance,” he said. “ I didn’t have to wait more than a few weeks. He said before surgery the pain was excruciating.
“To regard hip and knee replacement as elective surgery is outrageous because it camouflages the true extent of waiting lists in terms of its effects on individuals.
“There are unmeasured costs in work productivity and efficiency and an unmeasurable cost in quality of life,” he said.
These are just two of the fundamental issues of health reform. A proper review of health would look at issues such as distance from facilities in the regions and what constitutes elective surgery.
“The Prime Minister’s solutions look less impressive through the pain of a patient hobbling to work,” Dr McDonald observed, “Or an unwell patient in the South Burnett having to travel five hours to and from an MRI scan they have waited months to have.”
Posted by Jim on April 10, 2010
The Queensland Greens candidate for Wide Bay, Dr Jim McDonald, said that patients in the Wide Bay electorate have missed out on improvements to regional cancer services announced on Friday by Prime Minister Rudd.
“Nothing in Mr Rudd’s announcements will help those patients in the Wide Bay electorate who still have to travel up to 250km each way for some major cancer services.”
He said it is outrageous that unwell public patients in the west of the electorate have to undertake an arduous four or five hour round trip to access the nuclear medicine facilities at Toowoomba.
“For the most part, Mr Rudd’s announcements will benefit public patients requiring cancer treatment in marginal or Labor electorates, but not in our electorate.
“Where are the improvements needed to service the region at the Maryborough and Gympie hospitals?
“People in the west of the Wide Bay electorate worry about losing their existing hospitals. The fact that Wide Bay missed out on Mr Rudd’s largesse will do nothing to lessen those fears.
“Labor’s announcements are coming hard up against an election this year so Wide Bay voters would understandably be cynical about being left out again.
“The Liberal-National Government failed regional Australians in health for twelve years and the Rudd Labor Government has merely picked at the bones of health policy where it sees the possibility of votes.
“People in the Wide Bay electorate aren’t holding their breath to see whether any of the Prime Minister’s argy bargy with State Premiers will actually bring any real benefits to the hospital system in our region.”
Posted by Jim on April 5, 2010
Queensland Greens Candidate for Wide Bay, Dr Jim McDonald, said Tuesday’s debate on health between Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd would bring no joy to residents in the rural areas of the Wide Bay electorate.
On a tour of the electorate last week, he said it was outrageous that some residents in the electorate have to travel well in excess of 200 kilometres to get an MRI scan in Toowoomba.
“Residents of Murgon and the South Burnett who are ill enough to need an MRI scan have to travel more than 220 kilometres to Toowoomba for tests,” he said. That’s around two and three-quarter hours. Each way.
“When you are unwell enough to need the scan, it is an arduous journey. It is crazy that there is a public hospital in Murgon, and the nearest nuclear medicine facility is a 450 kilometres round trip. We’re not talking about the Tanami Desert in the Northern Territory here. It’s the South Burnett.”
Dr McDonald said, “It is a national disgrace that twenty years of grandstanding about health have left the regions under-resourced.
“The health debate has to be about how much longer people in the Wide Bay electorate and other regional areas with small towns will have to suffer from the lack of facilities.
“This is a real question for a patient in the South Burnett region suffering pain while Abbot and Rudd grandstand and score points off each other.
“The Liberal-National Government failed regional Australians and the electorate in health for twelve years and the Rudd Labor Government has done no better.”
He said the real priority for Kevin Rudd’s infrastructure program should have been about how better to improve conditions for regional Queenslanders in cooperation with the State Government
“People in the Wide Bay electorate worry about losing their existing hospitals. So, what does the Federal Government do with infrastructure spending in Murgon?
“They installed a row of new rubbish bins in the middle of town with pretty signs about their infrastructure program! Meanwhile, the health service situation for people who live in the rural communities of Wide Bay is no better after billions of dollars have been spent.
“Both the Labor Government and the Liberal-National Coalition at State and Federal levels have had plenty of time to improve health services for regional Australians. They have failed. The bins are symbolic of what is wrong with both parties,” he said.
Media Release, 21 March 2010