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Crowd Votes Down Mine … Again

Filed under Breaking News, Business, Council, Latest News, Media Gallery

Voting against Moreton Resources' proposed mine ... at front, Member for Maranoa David Littleproud, Cr Terry Fleischfresser, Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff and Mayor Keith Campbell; at rear, Cr Ros Heit and Deputy Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington (obscured) and husband Jason

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.

* * *

KCCG members John Dalton, Damien O'Sullivan and Gary Tessmann with Member for Maranoa David Littleproud, Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington and South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell

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.”

* * *

Guest speakers Dr Rock Boothroyd (ex-CSIRO), Vicki Perrin (Lock The Gate Alliance) and Sid Plant (Acland farmer) spoke about different aspects of mining and what it was like to live near a coal mine

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:

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7 Responses to Crowd Votes Down Mine … Again

  1. Mal

    “Thursday night’s meeting drew a smaller crowd of about 600-700 but public opinion about the project – by a show of hands ……” For a second time, 100% of people, experts and invited scientists at a meeting to oppose the mine, opposed the mine. Imagine that.

    Such underwhelming numbers Deb Frecklington:
    “Mrs Frecklington 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.”

    * 16,000 survey forms sent out and 762 forms returned. Could it be that the other 15,000 forms never made it to people who cared enough to respond? Of the 5% of people who responded, ’20 per cent supported the mine, 19 per cent said they needed more information to make a decision; and 59 per cent opposed it’. In round numbers – 150 for the mine, 150 couldn’t decide and 460 took the opportunity to say no. From that we conclude, 59% of people don’t support the mine.

    “South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell 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.”

    *So is arsenic only a problem for Morton Coal, or are all coal miners in all coal mines exposed to arsenic every day they work with coal?

  2. Shane

    So the Mayor’s concerns are about the environmental impacts of this coal mine. In a direct line from Tarong to Kingaroy, Nanango, Yarraman it isn’t far at all. What happens to the by products of Tarong???? Is that putrid cloud that’s vomited out into atmosphere a lot of times can be clearly seen hanging above Tarong and surrounding areas good for environment?

  3. Bill Weir

    I was at the meeting and Mrs Frecklington said she posted out 12,000 surveys not 16,000. She also said the typical response rate for these types of surveys was around 3 per cent, so she was delighted to get 6.3 per cent . My high school statistics tell me that drawing a sample of 762 out of a population of 12,000 is statistically reliable. It was also said at the meeting that arsenic is a problem associated with all coal mines. But what makes it particularly concerning in this case is that Moreton’s mine lease would allow run-off to flow into the Stuart River then on into Gordonbrook Dam. But I agree with you that there is nothing surprising about the majority of people at an anti-mine meeting voting against the mine. What is surprising is that the KCCG has twice been able to draw the biggest meetings Kingaroy has seen in decades over this issue.

    • Mal

      * Well Bill Weir, I stand corrected – 8000 plus 8000, now equals 12000 so the statistics look better. – see the quote below by Deb Frecklington on July 31. Point is, 12000 or 16000 is not relevant – such a small reply rate (760 out of 16000) does not imply anything and no meaningful conclusion about the mine can be drawn. The sample is too small to say what those who didn’t bother with the survey might actually be thinking – if in deed they are thinking about this at all.

      There were more people at the first meeting, and nearly as many at the second meeting, as those who replied to the survey. The conclusion I draw from those numbers is that there are less than 1000 people interested enough to do something – anything – to support or oppose the mine and make a statement to that effect. Other people may arrive at other conclusions.

      *If the arsenic and heavy metals are in coal and coal dust at the rates quoted, then why the hell is any coal mine still in production – either open cut or underground – and why is coal transported by train, or moved in the open by conveyor? If these risks are known, why do industry regulators allow them to continue?

      Quote:
      ‘July 31, 2016

      Thank you to everyone who returned my ‘South Burnett’s Biggest Survey’ recently.

      I launched this survey in late May to find out what the most important issues are for South Burnett residents, and kicked it off by posting out 8000 survey forms.

      However, when I received feedback that some people in the 4610 postcode area had missed out because Australia Post only delivered to street addresses – not mail runs – I printed another 8000 copies and mailed these out in early June.’

  4. Jesse

    If 16000 forms were mailed out where to? Why were addresses not kept? No one I know in the areas of close proximity affected by the mine received any forms? Most in the Goodger and Brooklands areas do not have a mail service and therefore had no input into Deb Frecklington’s survey? A lot of people do not know about the mine or think it is over because of the first meeting at the town hall. Most everyone I have spoken to is against this mine.

    • News Desk

      We were told the flyer was distributed by Australia Post to addresses in the 4610 area, which would mean rural mail, too. To confirm this, you could contact the Nanango Electorate Office. It is possible that people just thought it was election mail and threw it out. If “a lot of people” are as ignorant of what’s happening in the world around them as you are suggesting, I doubt they’d even notice a flyer from their local MP amongst the junk mail in their mailbox. And even if Mrs Frecklington had personally handed the flyer to them, I suggest, many people wouldn’t bother to pick up a pen to fill it out, or remember to mail it back.

  5. Roger C

    OMG who cares how many flyers were sent out ? At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how many people are in favour or against the mine it only matters which side is more determined to have their view heard and in this case the anti-miners are definitely the more organised, motivated and vocal side. News Desk is dead right about the survey. It doesn’t matter if 50,000 were sent out at the end of the day most people can’t be bothered filling them out and sending them back in.

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