Senate inquiry into the Queensland Government

Senate inquiry into the Queensland Government

image of Senate inquiry into the Queensland Government

All is not well in our great state of Queensland. Mining giants and multi-national corporations have so much influence over our government, that families and communities are no longer getting a fair go. Food, water, life - it is all at risk from unsafe and inappropriate coal and gas mining. 

Even the Federal Senate has recognised that there is something rotten in the state of Queensland. They have launched an inquiry into the Qld Government and how it approves and regulates coal and gas mining, and what that means for the protection of our communities and our environment.

The inquiry is ...

All is not well in our great state of Queensland. Mining giants and multi-national corporations have so much influence over our government, that families and communities are no longer getting a fair go. Food, water, life - it is all at risk from unsafe and inappropriate coal and gas mining. 

Even the Federal Senate has recognised that there is something rotten in the state of Queensland. They have launched an inquiry into the Qld Government and how it approves and regulates coal and gas mining, and what that means for the protection of our communities and our environment.

The inquiry is taking submissions until the 18th November 2014. This is an important opportunity to expose the failures of the Government to protect land, water and communities from unsafe coal and gas mining.  Please take a minute to send a quick submission using the email below.

If you want to know more about the inquiry, and making a submission, click here.

Don't use this form if you want to make a confidential submission, or you want to claim parliamentary privilege for the information you will submit. Email or mail your confidential submission directly using the Senate Committee details here.

 

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Make your submission

Take action below to make a submission to the Senate Select Committee investigating this matter. Submissions are due on Tuesday 18th November 2014.

Please amend the email text to add additional concerns that you may have, to add your own subject line, and to make any other changes that you would like.  Don't forget to add your name and address.

Click on "email tips" for extra points and examples ...

Take action below to make a submission to the Senate Select Committee investigating this matter. Submissions are due on Tuesday 18th November 2014.

Please amend the email text to add additional concerns that you may have, to add your own subject line, and to make any other changes that you would like.  Don't forget to add your name and address.

Click on "email tips" for extra points and examples about what you might want to say, relevant to each of the major issues.  But please remember that your submission will have more power if it is unique.

 

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Compose your email

Email Tips +

1.  Problems with the approval processes for export coal and LNG in Qld:

  • Recent changes to the law have removed or severely diminished the rights of community groups and neighbouring or other affected landholders to object to mining projects in court.
  • Other proposed changes will remove the requirement for coal mining companies to obtain water licences for the groundwater they extract during mining operations, thus allowing unsustainable take and posing a major risk to adjoining landholders.
    • Existing laws force landholders to sign conduct and compensation agreements, effectively under duress. So-called 'make good' agreements to compensate landholders for existing reliable sources of water are vastly inadequate. 
    • The Galilee Basin State Development Area in Central Qld was declared before full approval of proposed coal rail lines was given, pre-empting the environmental assessment approach and giving mining companies the upper hand in negotiations with farmers to compulsory acquire land to build the rail corridors.
    • The Co-ordinator General is part of the Dept of State Development, Infrastructure & Planning but has important environmental approval powers.  There is no adequate check on the decision-making power the role holds, and that power has actually been increased by recent law changes. 
    • The repeal of the Qld Wild Rivers Act has opened up the Channel Country to the possibility of extensive, industrial shale gas mining with major risks to scarce groundwater resources.
    • The Queensland Government does not require companies to provide adequate funds to rehabilitate land post-mining, only 55 hectares has ever been signed off as adequately restored, and there is a looming multi-billion dollar public liability for rehabilitation of mining sites.

2.  Examples of inconsistencies with international environmental law:

  • Ramsar Convention: Plans to discharge untreated mine wastewater from the proposed Colton coal mine directly into the Mary River, just upstream of the Ramsar-listed Great Sandy Strait wetlands. 
  • World Heritage Convention:  Recent development of three LNG export terminals and one new coal port, and proposals for further coal ports within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area.  Discharge of coal mining wastewater into the Fitzroy River catchment, which flows into the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Migratory Bird Agreements:  Proposals to dump dredge spoil from the proposed Abbott Point coal terminal expansion on the Caley Valley wetlands, which provide important habitat for up to 40,000 waterbirds, many of them listed on international migratory bird agreements.

3.  Points as to why delegation of approval powers by the Federal Minister is inappropriate:

  • It is placing at risk nationally significant water resources, which are important to the entire continent and its people and landscapes.
  • The Murray Darling Basin, for example, is subject to discharge of treated CSG wastewater directly into river systems, leading to likely increases in salt load. There are also concerns that CSG drilling may have contributed to methane 'bubbling' up from the Condamine River.
  • The Great Artesian Basin is also being targeted for both coal and gas mining, with risks of depressurisation and contamination. 
  • The Qld Government has even failed to protect drinking water supplies for Brisbane, with recent coal exploration allowed in the Wivenhoe Dam catchment.
  • The Qld Government has a vested interest in obtaining royalties from coal and gas developments, and does not consider cumulative impacts.
  • Qld Government compliance and enforcement practices are effectively useless, with the Qld Audit Office recently releasing a damning report on its failures.

4.  Examples of inconsistencies with Australia’s obligations under international human rights instruments:

  • International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: The Qld Government is allowing mining companies to impinge on the right to health and an adequate standard of living, including the right to water.  The Qld Government has allowed dangerous levels of coal dust pollution near townships such as Jondaryan and Willowbank, and in suburbs of Brisbane located along the coal train corridor. At Tara, the Qld Government has forced landholders to live in a gasfield, with subsequent health effects, without any prior Health Impact Assessments, appropriate buffer zones, baseline health testing or ongoing monitoring.  Landholders and communities are losing reliable groundwater because CSG companies are dewatering the Walloon coal measures.
  • UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples:  The Qld Government allows mining without requiring free, prior and informed consent by Indigenous Traditional Owners, and without ensuring the right of Indigenous people to maintain and protect cultural property, and the right to religious and cultural sites.  Indigenous people have raised serious concerns about losing access to their land and damage to important sites at locations near Tara, and on Curtis Island.

5.  Examples of other matters which we believe the committee will consider as relevant to this inquiry:

  • Very large political donations from the mining industry apparently leading to favourable policy decisions eg New Hope Coal purportedly donated $700,000 to state and federal Liberal and LNP parties; the Qld LNP Govt back-flipped on a pre-election promise to reject an application by New Hope to expand the Acland coal mine.
  • The revolving door between the Qld Government and the mining industry eg. a number of high-ranking staff from the Co-ordinator Generals office and Dept of Environment & Heritage Protection have left to take up direct jobs with the mining industry or their representative bodies.
  • The extraordinary access which mining industry lobbyists have to Qld politicians eg. QCoal's corporate affairs chief allegedly in charge of developing the LNP environment policy since 2012.
  • The manifest inadequacy of the powers of the Crime and Corruption Commission and its failure to investigate referrals relating to the approval of CSG projects and export terminals.

6.  Some points pertinent to your inquiries into, and report on, the adequacy of Commonwealth oversight of the approval of coal seam gas projects in Queensland:

  • A cost benefit analysis was not conducted of the LNG export terminals on Curtis Island prior to their approval.  Recent studies have shown that the approval of those terminals, without any protection for domestic consumers from the subsequent world-parity price shock, will cost Australian households $544M per year and industrial users up to $3.2B per year.
  • The three CSG projects were approved despite massive uncertainty about the impacts on groundwater and on matters of National Environment Significance, and without any plan for how hazardous salt waste products would be managed.
  • The scale of the projects, the lack of details contained in them, and the uncertainty in relation to impacts is unprecedented in our experience of EPBC approvals.  The approval of these projects effectively changes the nature of the EPBC Act from one of detailed impact assessment to adaptive management.