August 12, 2016
South Burnett residents attending a forum organised by the Kingaroy Concerned Citizens Group have again voted almost unanimously against Moreton Resources’ proposed coal mine near Coolabunia
The Kingaroy Town Hall meeting on Thursday night also heard the results of a survey conducted by Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington over the past two months had revealed almost 60 per cent of respondents were opposed to the open cut coal mine proposal.
The meeting was a follow-up to an earlier one organised by the KCCG in February.
At that meeting, 935 people signalled they were against the mine after hearing a presentation about the project from KCCG members.
Thursday night’s meeting drew a smaller crowd of about 600-700 but public opinion about the project – by a show of hands – was almost identical.
Mrs Frecklington, South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell and Federal Member for Maranoa David Littleproud, were invited by the KCCG to give their thoughts about Moreton Resources’ proposal.
Mrs Frecklington said her “Biggest Community Survey” had asked people how they felt about an open cut coal mine near Kingaroy.
She said 20 per cent of 762 respondents supported it; 19 per cent said they needed more information to make a decision; and 59 per cent opposed it. The remaining 2 per cent didn’t respond to the question.
Mrs Frecklington repeated statements she made in February that she was opposed to the mine proposal going ahead, and said feedback she had received from the community since the earlier meeting was that concerns about the loss of strategic cropping land, interference with airport operations and reduced quality of life seemed to be uppermost in many people’s minds.
She said one of her own concerns was that in absence of rebuilding railways or constructing a slurry pipe to transport coal to port, Moreton’s only other viable option to shift coal from its mine was to transport it by truck.
“There’s no way out of our community for a B-double,” she said.
Mrs Frecklington said Moreton were not a real and substantial mining company, and she questioned what they were doing to the community, accusing the company of “scare mongering” in an effort to attract investors.
She also questioned the company’s financial viability, reminding the audience the Australian Tax Office was seeking $8 million from the company, while she believed it had less than $1.2 million in the bank.
South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell said while he thought the Council would not be given the opportunity to have a say on the project, anything that impacted on the quality of local food, air and water was of great concern to him.
He said he was alarmed to hear the KCCG’s assertion at the meeting that Moreton’s coal mine could leach substantial amounts of arsenic into the local water supply if it went ahead.
“Anything that impacts on public health is an issue of the greatest concern to Council,” the Mayor said.
Member for Maranoa David Littleproud said he was a supporter of mining in general but did not support Moreton’s proposal because of its proximity to Kingaroy and the loss of strategic cropping land the project would entail.
He had visited the proposed location of the mine, and agreed the agricultural land covered by Moreton’s mining lease was a scarce resource worth preserving.
“I support mining,” Mr Littleproud said. “But I do not support this project in this location.”
The meeting was also addressed by former CSIRO scientist Dr Rock Boothroyd, who talked about the public health risks associated with coal mining; farmer Sid Plant, whose property is located 4km from the New Hope Coal Mine at Acland; and Vicki Perrin, from the Lock The Gate Alliance.
Dr Boothroyd talked about long-term studies that have been carried out in the Appalachian coal mining region of the USA which showed the average health of people living in close proximity to coal mines was one-fifth lower than average.
He said these results were echoed by similar studies in Illinois and China.
Mr Plant talked about what it was like to live next to the New Hope Coal Mine, the impacts it had on his quality of life, and the failure of both the State and Federal Governments to make mining companies adhere to standards.
Ms Perrin talked about how little coal mining really contributed to the State, with 80 per cent of profits going offshore; and how more than 330 Australian communities have now declared themselves “no go zones” for mining.
The KCCG provided an update on the approvals process that Moreton Resources will have to undertake to advance their project, and suggested things audience members could do if they wanted to oppose the plan themselves.
They also asked if anyone in the audience was in favour of the mine?
One person put their hand up.
Raw video of the wrap-up of the Kingaroy Town Hall meeting: