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Judging Campbell Newman’s Performance

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman has asked the people of Queensland to judge his government on its performance. So let’s judge it on its approach to managing our most precious resource – water. Tom Crothers reports.

Since coming to office in March 2012 the Newman Government has removed the moratorium on water development on Cape York Peninsular before the Water Resource Plan had been developed. This allows landholders on the Cape to secure large quantities of water entitlement for minimal cost while the water plan is still being prepared.

Natural Resources and Mines Minister Andrew Cripps led the charge to repeal the Wild Rivers Act; legislation that protected the water quality of streams/rivers and prevented inappropriate development on adjoining floodplains in undeveloped river systems.

Minister Cripps also amended the Water Act to progressively dismantle Queensland’s water planning and allocation framework – recognised as one of the best frameworks in Australia. Cripps also amended the Mineral Resources Act, allowing miners unlimited interference and access to associated groundwater in their mining operations. This will potentially result in a decline or loss of water supplies for existing landholders and rural communities.

The government also removed the rights of the general public, local authorities and interest groups to object and appeal to the granting of an environmental authority (without an EA [environmental authority] the miners cannot commence water extraction) and the granting of a mining lease.

Minister Cripps’ department went on to amend the Cooper Creek Resource Operations Plan to allow the trading of large “sleeper” water licences without following the due processes of the Water Act 2000.

At Deputy Premier Seeney’s direction, Minister Cripps passed retrospective legislation to allow a sand and gravel operation in the Brisbane River (at Harlin) to continue excavations, thus ceasing a DNR&M compliance investigation for unauthorised removal of sand and gravel resource.

The Coordinator-General has approved the extraction of up to 1770GL of groundwater from the Galilee Basin aquifers by the Alpha, Kevin’s Corner, Galilee Coal and Carmichael mega coal mines. This will have significant impacts on the water supplies of up to 39 landholders with existing rights and livelihoods that depend on access to this water.

Minister Cripps ignored the recommendations of the landholder’s Land Court appeal to the Alpha Mine – which outlined that a “more cautious approach” be taken in the management of the Galilee Region’s groundwater resources and progressed legislation that allows miners a statutory right to access associated groundwater without and Water act approvals.

The heavily LNP stacked Agriculture, Resources and Environment Parliamentary Committee ignored stakeholder submissions to address the serious flaws in the current “Make Good Arrangements” framework for landholders impacted by mining and gas operations. The current framework is still seriously flawed and heavily slanted in favour of the Resources Industry.

The Newman Government has by no means finished dismantling good public policy. If returned to government next week it proposes two more significant changes. The first is to allow up to 522GL/annum of water to be taken from the Gilbert River and up to 385GL/annum to be taken from the Flinders River in the Gulf of Carpentaria for new irrigation projects. This will have unknown impacts on the Gulf’s barramundi and prawn fisheries.

The second is to allow fracking and the take of water from the GAB in the Cooper Basin for deep gas and oil production. Fracking has been banned in a number of States in the USA, including New York State due to identified health impacts. At risk is a clean, green beef industry and growing tourism sector.

The Newman Government has made much of its “Strong Plan” for Queensland. Judging by its past performance, this will cause irreversible damage to our water resources, destroy our rich biodiversity and internationally recognised ecosystems and even further diminish the rights of Queensland landholders.

Before casting their votes on Saturday, rural Queenslanders should carefully consider the Newman government’s disappointing performance – and ask themselves just whose interests this “Strong Plan” will serve over the next 3 years.

12 comments

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  1. Peter F

    Anyone wondering why the LNP will be last on my ballot paper?

  2. The AIM Network

    Got us stumped, Peter. 😉

  3. Kaye Lee

    For an example of what could happen to you take the case of Garry Reed.

    Mr Reed took on mine owner QCoal and the State Government over a plan to divert Coral Creek, which runs through land owned by the mine and Mr Reed’s property.

    The farmer, who relies on the creek for half of his water, lost an appeal in the Land Court in February and had costs awarded against him in April.

    QCoal, owned by reclusive mining billionaire Chris Wallin, wants to dig up the coal underneath the creek to extend the life of the Sonoma mine by six to eight months.

    A Sunday Mail survey last year estimated Mr Wallin’s personal wealth at $1.8 billion, making him richer than Clive Palmer.

    The former state government geologist is one of the biggest donors to Queensland’s ruling Liberal National Party (LNP), giving $120,000 through two of his companies just before the 2012 state election.

    The creek diversion was not part of the initial plan for the Sonoma mine.

    Local residents say they were assured by the company at a public meeting that it would not be touched.

    In QCoal’s initial advice statement in 2005, the company acknowledged the environmental and heritage value of Coral Creek and said it would build a buffer zone to protect it from the mine.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-29/farmer-faces-ruin-after-losing-coal-mine-court-fight/5417394

  4. helen jennings

    Am I being far too cynical and suspicious when I say that the lnp nationally operates on under the table deals. It appears that all their dealings benefit the relevant big companies to the detriment of the environment and workforce and servicescto the people etc. No one gains except those with money and power and I believe the lnp ministers all profit and not just financially. My contempt for the lnp collectively has never been greater and as for the lnp voters they lack a sense of social justice and a world view that extends past their picket fences. NO RESPECT. They have never had my vote and never will.

  5. Matters Not

    The LNP claims to be ‘strong’ on just about everything. When it comes to matters of ‘corruption’, the smell is particularly ‘strong’. Better described as a ‘stench’ and is rotting from the head down.

    Voted this morning and there were large numbers doing just that as well. Enough to keep two officials busy. There was a queue of 8 waiting when we arrived. With a ‘barcode’ on the ‘proof of Identity’, processing time is much reduced. Voted 1 Green, 2 ALP but didn’t exhaust. This electorate should fall to the ALP quite easily.

    Will hand out ‘how to vote cards’ for the ALP in short sessions during this week.

  6. diannaart

    When am I going to reach saturation point? The deliberate wrecking of environment and the people (such as farmers) who depend upon a sustainable environment – one that is not about ‘lasting for 6 months to 8 months’, but for the future. How did we get here?

    I should be thoroughly de-sensitised by now – but I’m not, I still weep.

  7. Anomander

    If the voting public of Queensland don’t grow a brain very shortly, the name of the state will need to be changed to Mordor.

  8. Kaye Lee

    “An independent Queensland MP will refer Campbell Newman to the Queensland Electoral Commission over the Liberal National party’s commitment to only fund promised local projects, such as park upgrades, if the electorate votes for an LNP candidate.

    Peter Wellington has labelled the move “outrageous”, accusing the LNP of only governing for some Queenslanders. He is preparing to send a letter to the QEC on Tuesday alleging Newman has contravened the Electoral Act by “blackmailing” voters into voting for the LNP.

    Newman has confirmed that if the LNP wins government it will not fund promised projects in electorates if the area does not have an LNP MP, arguing it would mean the electorate had rejected the proposal.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/jan/26/lnp-accused-bribing-queenslanders-projects-for-votes-pledge

  9. my say

    It seems to me that the liberal voters know their in trouble ,in QLD ,a caller asked Hadley to help Newman,then the shock jock gave Abbott a gob full for his choice for a knight hood,and was screamed at by a caller for doing so ,they must be sick of eating humble pie, and scraping egg off their faces,
    AINT KARMA A BITCH,

  10. eleanawiEleana Winter-Irving

    There are e who are supporting Campbell Newman. Obviously his tactics haven’t affected them.

  11. paul walter

    Nor his vile policies, Eleana. These were far worse then Bligh’s, that Bligh got booted out for, after breaking a promise.

    Strange double standards they seem to have up there.

    He epitomises all that is bad in Oz politics. Grasping, reactive, devoid of consciousness or values.. the sort of peasant mentality that had the Goose rudely gutted rather than wait a few moments for it to lay the next Golden Egg.

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