Ferguson flag changes to law to protect against ‘guerilla conservationists’

Federal resources minister Martin Ferguson has called for changes to mining regulations to halt "guerilla tactics" against the industry.

Speaking in Brisbane yesterday, Ferguson discussed the future of the mining industry and the challenges that it is currently facing.

It came at a conference where newly elected Queensland premier Campbell Newman highlighted faster approval times for major mining projects, and the backlash some of these project, such as the newly approved Wandoan coal mine, have faced – particularly from environmental conservationists.

Ferguson stated that while "our environment must be protected and community concerns addressed….we must also recognise that there are some who seek to manipulate those concerns, and use guerilla tactics through regulatory processes to frustrate economic development and job creation".

These comments come after the release of a Greenpeace document which outlines the group’s aim of shutting down the coal industry.

The leaked documents show Greenpeace is pushing for $5.92 million in philanthropic funding to finance legal challenges against the mining industry.

The documents say dragging companies through the court and propping up landholder opposition could "disrupt and delay" the mining industry.

The strategy aims to change the story of coal from a prosperous industry supporting jobs to a "destructive industry that destroys the landscape and communities, corrupts our democracy, and threatens the global climate".

A Greenpeace spokesperson told Australian Mining the documents were a draft proposal and it had "no idea" how they had been obtained..

They said the coal industry was growing too fast to respond to climate change and Australia needed to be planning a transition to clean energy.

Greenpeace said it was "perplexed" that the story had made front page news but it was hoping the attention would help its fundraising.

"We’re hoping this will help our efforts, our fundraising phones have been running hot all morning," they said.

Greenpeace also said by "scandal research" it meant bringing to light the darker sides of the mining industry it thought the public had no knowledge of.

‘There’s a range of scandals in the industry relating to the revolving door between industry and the government, a lack of regulation, breaches of licence conditions, and political donations," they said.

"We think there are a lot of things that, if they saw the light of day, the public would not be impressed by."

Ferguson warned that attitudes like this would damage the nation’s economy.

"In the development of our natural resources we face competition for footloose global capital

"We also face the situation where there can be a limited window to expand capacity to grab market opportunity," he said.

"If we don’t move when opportunity knocks – it can be lost for a generation or more.

And along with the lost opportunity is also the loss of potential jobs, royalties and tax revenue."

The minister went on to state his commitment to both the mining industry and the protection of the environment, but stated he would not work with "those seeking to kill economic development in this country".

 

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