It's time to stop the mine games in the Galilee
NORTH and Central Queensland businesses and community leaders furious at political posturing over mining giant Adani's proposed Carmichael coal mine are taking matters into their own hands.
Groups in Townsville, Rockhampton and Mackay are launching advertising and social media campaigns demanding politicians and candidates at all levels of government make clear their position on mining in the Galilee Basin.
They are frustrated with the bureaucratic barriers that keep holding back the promise of six mines worth $60billion with the capacity to create 15,000 mining jobs.
The Capricornia Chamber of Commerce is likely to launch its advertising campaign after its executive meeting next week.
Chamber secretary Phil Henry said the members felt as though they had to go public with their views.
"This is a coal region. It has been for a long time and it will be for a long time to come,” he said.
"Adani is just one of six projects in the Galilee Basin so it's not all about Adani but it is simply the one that's got to this stage first.
"The Galilee Basin is the next natural region to be developed for coal and we see the measurable impact mining has on supply chain and the general economy in the Fitzroy region.”
Adani's proposed coal mine in the Galilee Basin has been in the planning stages for eight years now. The scaled-down project has finance and has been given environmental approvals by the Federal Government.
Its fate lies in the hands of the State Government, which has been accused of shifting the goalposts and dragging its feet over environmental approvals.
In 2017 the Queensland Government inexplicably decided to veto a proposed $1billion Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility loan for the Adani mine's railway.
In December 2018 it made a late call for an "independent review” of Adani's Black-Throated Finch Management Plan which has further stalled the mine.
The latest hiccup is a delay over issues with the environmental ground water management plan despite approval granted by the Federal Government last week
Rockhampton and Townsville are the guaranteed primary source for employees for the Carmichael Project's 1500 strong construction workforce (500 jobs for each region) with 500 jobs coming from outside the two regions.
The mine is ready to go.
No wonder people are frustrated and angry.
Rockhampton businessman Mark Bunt added his voice to the chorus of discontent (see story above).
"I can't understand why the State Government isn't really pushing it, just the royalties that would come out of Adani alone ... the Queensland Government isn't exactly financial,” he said at Mark Bunt's Mensware in East St.
There was strong support for Adani in Rockhampton last month when CEO Lucas Dow met a large group of concerned community leaders and business people.
In today's Townsville Bulletin, a group of anxious business leaders have banded together to launch a hard-hitting campaign calling for elected representatives to step up for the region.
Led by Parkside Group director Peter Tapiolis, the idea came out of a recent lunch in which Adani's Lucas Dow updated a section of the business community on the mine's lack of progress.
"I could not sit by and watch our Townsville and the regional economies go from bad to worse while our political and advocacy leaders continue to sit on their hands and do little to reverse the situation,” Mr Tapiolis said.
"I will call out politicians from all political persuasions and demand they stand up and fight or find another job as the community deserves better.”
Townsville Enterprise chairman Kevin Gill said North Queensland families were sick of the opening of the Galilee Basin being thrown around like a political football.
"The frustration has built up across our community and businesses to the point that today we say enough is enough and we are taking a stand,” he said.
Last week, Mackay-based Resource Industry Network launched its For the Future of our Region advocacy campaign designed to deliver facts around coal mining and to ensure the community is informed when it goes to vote.
When it comes to the seat of Capricornia, Labor candidate Russell Robertson has declared his support for both Adani and the Galilee Basin, although with the usual Labor proviso "if it stacks up environmentally and financially”.
Labor leader Bill Shorten backed that view despite his shadow environment minister Mark Butler voicing opposition to the Galilee vision and his deputy leader Tanya Plibersek saying the environmental groundwater management plan approval granted to Adani last week could be revisited by a Shorten government.
"Everyone's entitled to their opinions,” Mr Shorten told The Morning Bulletin last week.
"I will be the Prime Minister (if Labor wins), I will set our direction and be upfront with what we are doing. For us mining is a part of our foreseeable future ... it's a generational time frame.”
Member for Rockhampton Barry O'Rourke supports the Adani project but wants due process delivered.
"We need to take the politics out of this and leave the decision making with the experts,” he said on Friday.
Which is why The Morning Bulletin and thousands of other Central Queensland residents are wondering how the Premier made her selfish political decision on the NAIF loan and how a last minute review of the black-throated finch plan was commissioned when the government's departmental experts had already painstakingly worked through the plan with Adani.
We want Mr O'Rourke to follow through on his words and fight for this region; make sure Adani is treated fairly. He needs to be all over this game-changer jobs project.
We want Mr Robertson to do the same with his Federal colleagues if he is elected. As Don Chipp said in the 1970s, "keep the bastards honest”.