LETTER OF THE DAY: Premier's peformance judged by water
Premier Campbell Newman has asked Queenslanders to judge his government on its performance. Well I totally agree - let's judge its performance over the last three years on water related matters.
The Newman Government has:
1. Removed the moratorium on water development on Cape York Peninsular before the Water Resource Plan has been developed. This allows landholders on the Cape to secure large quantities of water entitlement for minimal cost while the water plan is being prepared.
2. Repealed the Wild Rivers Act and revoked all Wild River Declarations. This legislation protected the water quality of streams/rivers and prevented inappropriate development on adjoining floodplains in undeveloped river systems.
3. Amended the Water Act to progressively dismantle Queensland's water planning and allocation framework - recognised as one of the best frameworks in Australia.
4. Amended the Mineral Resources Act to allow miners unlimited interference & access to associated groundwater in their mining operations. This will potentially result in a decline or loss of water supplies for existing landholders and rural communities.
5. Has removed the rights of the general public, local authorities and interest groups to object and appeal to the granting of an environmental authority (without an EA the miners cannot commence water extraction) and the granting of a mining lease.
6. Passed retrospective legislation to allow a sand & gravel operation in the Brisbane River (at Harlin) to continue excavations, thus ceasing a DNR&M compliance investigation for unauthorised removal of sand and gravel resource.
7. Approved the extraction of up to 1770GL of groundwater from the Galilee Basin aquifers by the Alpha, Kevin's Corner, Galilee Coal and Carmichael mega coal mines. This will have significant impacts on the water supplies for up to 39 landholders.
8. Ignored the recommendations of the landholder's Land Court appeal to the Alpha Mine - which outlined that a "more cautious approach" be taken in the management of the Galilee Region's groundwater resources.
9. Amended the Cooper Creek Resource Operations Plan to allow the trading of large "sleeper" water licences without following the due processes of the Water Act 2000.
10. Ignored stakeholder submissions to address the serious flaws in the current "Make Good Arrangements" framework for landholders impacted by mining and gas operations. The current framework is still seriously flawed and heavily slanted in favour of the Resources Industry.
Furthermore - the Newman Government proposes:
1. to allow up to 522GL/annum of water to be taken from the Gilbert River and up to 385GL/annum to be taken from the Flinders River in the Gulf of Carpentaria for new irrigation projects. This will have unknown impacts on the Gulf's barramundi and prawn fisheries.
2. to allow the fracking and the take of water from the GAB in the Cooper Basin for deep gas and oil production. Fracking has been banned in a number of States in the USA, including New York State due to identified health impacts.
The Newman Government certainly has a "Strong Plan" in store for Queenslanders. They will cause irreversible damage to our water resources, destroy our rich biodiversity and internationally recognised ecosystems and even further further diminish the rights of Queensland landholders.
Before casting their votes on Saturday, rural Queenslanders should carefully consider the Newman government's disappointing performance - and ask themselves just whose interests this "Strong Plan" will serve over the next three years.
Tom Crothers. Redland Bay.