June 13, 2016
by Anne Miller
Trying to get the people who would most likely be affected by the proposed Moreton Resources mine near Goodger, and representatives from the would-be mining company, in the same room together could be almost impossible.
On one side, John Dalton, a spokesman for the Kingaroy Concerned Citizens Group – which is campaigning against the mine – said Moreton Resources had refused “to meet with them as a group” for the second time.
And on the other, Moreton Resources managing director Jason Elks has repeatedly invited people who are concerned about the proposal to speak to him as individuals.
However, Taabinga Village resident Pam Marquardt – one of the people who fears the mine will have an adverse effect on her home – says she is unwilling to meet one-on-one with Moreton Resources.
In a media release put out by the KCCG, Mrs Marquardt said she “certainly” would not be meeting one-on-one with the company.
This followed her experience at one of the small forums that Moreton Resources organised around the region two months ago.
She said that when she and other directly affected landholders “began to ask simple questions that the company had difficulty answering”, they were told that they would have to leave if they persisted.
“I felt discouraged by their approach to my questions, and I certainly won’t be having any one-on-one meetings with the company,” she said.
“They can’t even admit the obvious risk which is that we will have dust, lights and noise problems if we are living 1500m from an open cut coal mine.”
southburnett.com.au does not know which forum Mrs Marquardt is referring to, but we can confirm that at one we attended, some of the people present were asked to stop interjecting during Mr Elks’ presentation or they would be asked to leave.
However, communication in the other direction has also been shut down.
In February, the KCCG organised a forum of its own where the majority of the 900 or so people present voted overwhelmingly against the mine.
At this, Mr Elks was posed some questions by a KCCG representative but was otherwise prevented from speaking.
In his media release, Mr Dalton said the refusal of Moreton Resources to meet with the KCCG as a group was “likely to be an excuse by a company that knows the credibility of its proposal could be exposed by simple questions from a group of landholders”.
“At a community forum in February, the company couldn’t answer simple questions about the economic benefits of the mine or the expected dust effects on nearby Taabinga Village,” he said.
“We think the company may have decided that receiving negative press for refusing to meet with us is better than trying to find answers to those questions.
“We believe that if this proposal had credibility, the company would welcome the opportunity to speak to landholders.
“The company claims that it is open and transparent, but only on its own terms apparently. It is a most unusual way to build trust and social capital in a community.”
UPDATE June 14: Mr Dalton has contacted southburnett.com.au to emphasise that at the February KCCG forum: “MRV was given two questions to answer AND five minutes to speak about their mine as they saw fit.”