Business

Resources sector ready for activist moves before election

THE resources sector is ready for whatever will be thrown at it by environmental activists in the lead-up to the September federal election and beyond, Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche has told an industry conference.

Addressing an environmental management conference in Brisbane, Mr Roche said it was clear from the ongoing assignment to Australia of US and European activists that Queensland's biggest industry sector was the target of a well-funded and orchestrated campaign.

"This is going to be a real test for Queenslanders in the lead-up to the federal election," Mr Roche said.

"The hyperbole is only going to get worse and the facts more distorted, as we have seen already in the multitude of 'save the reef' campaigns.

"Ignoring scientifically documented threats to the reef and hanging all the problems on farmers, miners, gas companies and the ports that service towns and cities along 80 percent of the coastline is only the start."

His comments come as 150 Australian scientists call on the Queensland and Australian Governments to hit the pause button on any new port developments, while a massive national assessment of all the risks to the Great Barrier Reef was completed.

Signatory to an open letter sent to both governments, University of Queensland Professor Hugh Possingham said a massive, independent, peer-reviewed study of all threats to the reef needed to be undertaken.

One of the six strategies is increasing the cost of producing coal as part of an internationally directed plan to shut down the Australian coal industry 

Prof Possingham said it was a "rare occurrence" that such a scientific consensus could be found on any single issue, but showed the importance of the worth of the environmental asset.

Mr Roche said strategies proposed in a leaked 2011 'anti-coal movement' playbook were now in evidence across Queensland and New South Wales.

"One of the six strategies is increasing the cost of producing coal as part of an internationally directed plan to shut down the Australian coal industry and the hundreds of thousands of Australian jobs it supports," he said.

"In Australia this is taking the form of attempts to axe legitimate tax arrangements, vexatious court challenges that up until a short time ago were paid for by taxpayers, and expensive and unnecessary amendments to environmental laws set against the class warfare that so annoyed former resources and energy minister Martin Ferguson."

Mr Roche said Queensland's minerals and energy companies were working hard at earning their social licence to operate, illustrated by a more than 80% statewide approval rating in polling conducted last month.

"They're not going to sit by and watch that level of community trust white-anted by professional activists who are accountable to no-one and committed to lowering the living standards of Queenslanders," he said.

"In the face of the activists' distortions and outright lies, our industry's only weapons will be facts, evidence and science. We will deploy these weapons resolutely and robustly."

Topics:  great barrier reef, michael roche, mining, queensland resources council, resources



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