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Community Splits Over Coal Mine

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Pro- and anti-mine signs on the side of the D’Aguilar Highway … near the Barkers Creek Flats and coming into Kingaroy

July 4, 2019

by Anne Miller

A recent ABC audio documentary, based on the “More Mines” sign outside Nanango, painted a picture of a community divided over the proposed Moreton Resources coal mine near Kingaroy .

The documentary, made by former Kingaroy resident Nikola Van de Wetering, explored the tensions over coal and the alleged “mystery” sign on the highway (although who erected it was eventually revealed).

Nikola originally made the program for the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia and an earlier version was broadcast on community station 4ZZZ.

ABC Radio National then picked it up and Nicole re-edited and expanded it for a recent episode of the Earshot radio show and podcast.

southburnett.com.au shared a link to the podcast on our Facebook page recently … and the debate in the comments quickly began.

As the post provoked so much discussion, we thought a poll of our readers might prove interesting.

So …. we posed the following simple question on Facebook with a summary of the arguments that we have seen presented for and against the Kingaroy coal mine:

* * *

Should Moreton Resources’ coal mine go ahead?

As we see it, the arguments that have been advanced so far go like this:

Yes – the South Burnett is dying and we need the JOBS; many of the people opposed to the mine are retired and are ignoring the fact that young people are trying to build a future in the area; NIMBY opposition; climate change is not caused by humans so there is nothing wrong with mining coal for power generation.

No – Moreton Resources is Cougar Energy renamed; they don’t appear to have a buyer lined up for the coal (Stanwell doesn’t want it); does Moreton have the wherewithal to make the mine happen; the plan is to transport the coal to port via rail which means the closure of the South Burnett Rail Trail and coal trains travelling through (or near) local towns; dust from the mine near Taabinga and Goodger homes; the loss of farming land; climate change / global warming.

* * *

The poll ran on the southburnett.com.au Facebook page for seven days and attracted 526 votes.

Based on a South Burnett population figure of 32,000, this would give the result a statistical error rate of 5 per cent.

We don’t know HOW individuals voted, but we do know WHO voted and a scan of the names confirmed nearly all were local residents so we don’t believe people from outside the region attempted to manipulate the poll.

The “Yes” vote started strongly, but by Day 2, the “No” vote had taken a very narrow lead, a position it held until voting closed.

The Final Result? 48% Yes / 52% No

We received almost 60 comments on the original post.

Most of the people willing to comment publicly opposed the mine:

We have lost so many farmers off the land to drought and there is a gaping hole called the Bowen Basin which is about to get even bigger. This whole concept of more mining is nonsensical.

To have a coal mine this close to town is absolutely ludicrous. We have some of the richest farming country around. So, for the health of the people and a way of putting food on their table, it’s a definite NO from me.

Would they hire locals or import…. Hmm

It’s not just older people against it. Coal is a dying commodity. Very few local people would benefit from the jobs.

But there were a few public supporters:

Solar and wind are good but what happens when the sun sets and the wind drops? We need baseload electricity.

 Super efficient coal-fired power stations are currently the most reliable and cheap form of power.

For the future generations, they must have something to keep this town growing

What farming land? There are hardly no farmers left. What about the rest of the area? This place is dying. Young people cannot get jobs, give them a chance.

* * *

So what does this all mean?

Taking into account the statistical error rate, we believe it’s fair to say that the ABC documentary is accurate: the South Burnett community is split almost straight down the middle about the mine.

This means arguments put forward by Moreton Resources that the community supports the development are not totally accurate, but neither are claims by the Kingaroy Concerned Citizens Group that there is overwhelming opposition.

The one message that came through loud and clear, though, is that the South Burnett needs jobs, especially for young people.

Moreton Resources’ proposed coal mine has offered hope to about half the local population that this may change.

Other considerations are considered by them nowhere near as important.

This should be a clear message to politicians – local, State and Federal – that job creation should be the number one priority in regional areas such as the South Burnett.


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2 Responses to Community Splits Over Coal Mine

  1. John Doe

    The last sentence worries me. Basically translated it means:

    “Who cares about the environment as long as people have jobs, let our descendants deal with the mess we leave the environment in”

    It’s not like we need the environment to live…Oh wait we do…….

    • Anne Miller

      It should not be an either/or proposition. Because the South Burnett needs jobs, people want the mine. If there were other job opportunities available, maybe they wouldn’t … so our politicians should be working to create job opportunities. That’s what I meant by that last sentence.

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