Queensland’s Government is considering restricting who can object to mining applications to halt ‘philosophical opposition’ to projects.
As it stands any person or group can object to applications, whether they are directly affected by the operation or not, forcing the matter into the Land Court.
Now QLD deputy premier Jeff Seeney is seeking to limit this ability, which he described as “frustrating for the Government,” according to the ABC.
“It’s obvious that the current process allows individuals or groups who are fundamentally opposed to the coal industry – for whatever reason – to use the objection process to frustrate and delay those projects,” he said.
“The people of Queensland have elected us as a Government based on developing our coal industry to supply the world markets and our processes need to allow us to do that.”
NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee has previously slammed protestors of mining, stating that they “have decided they have the divine right to protest, unfettered by the laws to which the rest of us are bound, and regardless of any risk to themselves or those around them”.
On the back of this QLD is looking to release a discussion paper focused on who has the right to object to applications.
‘What we’re looking at is a process that will have an assessment process that is relative to the risk the project poses,’ he said, according to Sky News.
He went on to say that while major projects, such as Gina Rinehart and GVK’s mega Alpha coal mine and Clive Palmer’s Waratah mine, would be open to essentially all, smaller projects would have more restrictions on objections.
These objections would likely be restricted only to ‘affected landholders’ and local government, the ABC reports.
The Lock the Gate Alliance has described the announcement as “despicable”.
“Once again the LNP government is trying to curb the democratic rights of Queenslanders,” Lock the Gate Alliance’s president Drew Hutton said.
“The Newman government and his bully-boy Jeff Seeney are trying to stop ordinary people and communities from protecting themselves against multimillionaires in the mining industries that are trying to make a quick buck and move on.
“It’s ludicrous to suggest only landholders should have a stake in whether a mine that effects so many people should go ahead. The impacts on land, air, water and greenhouse gases go much further than the immediate landholders.”
He went on to point to the New Acland mine’s expansion.
The New Acland Revised Stage 3 Proposal is before Queensland’s Coordinator General, with a decision on the expansion expected next month
Approval would mean the miner could increase production from 4.8 million tonnes a year to 7.5 million tonnes a year.
While the company says the plan will inject $530 million in the south-east Queensland economy per year, and $8 billion over the life of the mine.
It would also mean the controversial coal loading facility will be moved 8kms from Jondaryan.
Tensions surrounding the effects of mining have been long fought in the town with residents concerned over the impacts mining activity has on air and water quality.
“Locals are already being adversely effected by the Acland mine and any expansion will cause further pain but Mr Seeney is suggesting communities should just put up with it,” Hutton said.
“Some of the largest mining projects in the world are being proposed in Queensland in the next few years and everyone should have a say in whether they should go ahead.”
Seeney has stated that the discussion paper is not about disenfranchising people but about reviewing the assessment process.
This review is not about any particular circumstance,” he said.
“It’s part of a broader commitment that we’ve given to the people of Queensland to review the assessment processes to ensure the projects the Queensland economy needs can proceed and respond in a responsible and appropriate way.”