Milne emphasises CSG opposition

THE social effects of fly-in, fly-out mining practices are one of the top issues new Greens leader Senator Christine Milne wants to discuss with Queensland miners.

After the shock resignation of former Greens leader Bob Brown last week, Ms Milne was announced as the party's new leader, announcing her commitment to regional Australia.

But despite already hitting the road, visiting Orange in New South Wales on Wednesday, she could not confirm whether she would visit the Central Queensland mining heartland.

She said global issues such as food security; climate change and renewable technology were on top of her agenda to discuss with regional Australians.

But in areas where mining and energy represented a large percentage of the workforce, she would not be drawn on how she planned to connect with miners.

Instead, Senator Milne emphasised her opposition to coal seam gas.

"We have already had our state Senators Larissa Waters and Lee Rhiannon visiting the Darling Downs and Liverpool Plains talking about coal seam gas, and I will do what I can for farmers coming up against this industry.

"There are also the issues around the expansion of the coal industry.

"The discussions I'd be having with miners would be focussed on the social and environmental impacts of the industry and the impact of fly-in, fly-out practices.

"I understand why the companies are looking to FIFO practices, but I also see the impacts of it on communities - particularly on maintaining jobs in the non-mining and resource sector when the wages in the industry are so high."

Senator Milne said she believed the expansion of mining and coal seam gas was undermining the "critical" need for agriculture to boost production while reducing inputs.

She said she was "horrified" at ongoing marine environmental health issues in Gladstone Harbour.

"What we are seeing in Gladstone Harbour is what we (the Greens) have been saying for years - that eventually you reach a point where it is no longer possible to balance the interests of industry and the environment.

"It's part of a long-term industrialisation of the harbour area and we are now seeing that reach a point that it cannot come back from.

"But the solution, as some have proposed, is not in excluding the harbour from the World Heritage Area; they continue to argue it can be balanced, but it cannot."

While there were no immediate plans to visit regional Queensland, Ms Milne said people who wanted her to visit their town should contact her office and she would do her best to schedule a visit.



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