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Time to think of farmers instead of shareholders pockets

THINK of the farmers, not the shareholders.

That was a key message of more than 30 protesters outside the Ipswich Civic Centre yesterday as the New Hope Group AGM went on inside.

The concerned community members are opposed to New Hope's planned expansion of stage three of the Acland mine on the Darling Downs and the proposed Colton mine on the Mary River, both of which they say will have devastating results for farmers, landholders and communities.

Lock the Gate spokesperson Kate Dennehy said there was a lot at stake for the community near the Acland mine.

"The concern for the Acland farmers is that a lot of them put money into their properties when the ALP and LNP both said stage three would not go through, but now it seems to be going through," she said.

"The only choice they have now is to take it to the land court which is most unfair.

"They are trying to run their properties and at the same time they are up against the might of Clayton Utz lawyers who will be fighting to get this mine through. The farmers are going to lose their water resources, livelihoods and farms.

"Our message we are trying to send to the AGM shareholders is to think of the farmers before you vote to proceed with these coal mines which are a thing of the past.

"Instead of the shareholders thinking about what is going into their pockets, think of what is coming out of the farmers' pockets.

"The way forward for Australia is renewables where there are more jobs."

Protesters outside the New Hope Group AGM. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times
Protesters outside the New Hope Group AGM. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times Rob Williams

A fact sheet put out by Lock the Gate claimed that the proposed Acland expansion would result in the loss of more than 1300 hectares of strategic cropping land, cause drawdown in groundwater aquifers of up to 47m in some locations, worsen noise and air quality and impact negatively on threatened species, along with other adverse impacts.

The farmers who will be impacted by the Acland expansion were meeting their lawyers yesterday.

"The farmers involved in the land court case to do with Acland stage three wanted to be here today, but they and their lawyers could only get together on this day at this time," Ms Dennehy said.

"But they have sent their support for us and our grateful for what we can do to get their message out."

A New Hope Group spokesperson said the company respected the rights of people to express their views.

The spokesperson said that the protest by what it called activist groups appeared to be part of a wider campaign to stop the Australian coal industry.

Protesters outside the New Hope Group AGM at the Ipswich Civic Centre on Thursday. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times
Protesters outside the New Hope Group AGM at the Ipswich Civic Centre on Thursday. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times Rob Williams

"Our door is always open for anyone to come and talk to us about any issues they may have in a sensible and constructive way," the spokesperson said.

Clancy Morrison of the 350.org, a worldwide climate change organisation was on hand to lend his voice to the protest.

"Our mandate is to solve the global climate crisis and a big part of that is keeping fossil fuels in the ground," he said.

"Obviously New Hope is keen to dig up more than they have been and that is something we are keen to put a stop to."

John Ingram, an anti-coal activist who wants to see the economy depend less on coal, said "over 80% of the royalties will not go to the Queensland Government"

"They will go to the owners of the property, which happen to be the mine.

"So the mine will be paying itself a majority of the royalties," he said.

Topics:  environment lock the gate new hope group