Hunter community takes stand against new coal terminal

February 15, 2012
The 150 people at the Paddock to Port forum voted to reject the fourth coal terminal proposed for Newcastle harbour. Photo court

The Hunter Community Environment Centre released the statement below on February 16.

* * *

The Paddock to Port public forum held on February 15 in Newcastle was attended by over 150 people. They unanimously passed a resolution to reject the proposed fourth coal terminal for Newcastle.

“The meeting resolved to call on the NSW and federal governments to reject the fourth coal terminal and associated mine expansions in the Hunter on the grounds of cumulative impacts on health, biodiversity, farmland, other industries and the Hunter River,” said forum organiser, Bev Smiles.

“We are confident that people have been encouraged to become more involved in this issue by lodging submissions of objection when the project is released for public comment.”

Presentations by health and economics experts, as well as community representatives and environmental campaigners outlined the range of negative impacts caused by the coal industry.

With the fourth coal export terminal, coal transport and handling in Newcastle will rise by 230% from 143 mega tonnes a year now, to 331 mega tonnes in the future, causing increased dust, noise and other environmental and social impacts along the coal chain.

Dr Graeme Horton from Doctors for the Environment Australia outlined that 19 known cancer causing agents and pollutants, including arsenic, are generated through the extraction and transportation of coal. Pollution from coal affects all major body organ systems and is responsible for $2.6 billion in Australian health costs annually.

Matt Grudnoff from the Australia Institute pointed out that mining provides only 1.9% of employment in Australia while producing the highest profit margin of all industries. Because 83% of the mining industry is foreign owned most of the profit goes offshore.

“The fourth coal terminal will keep the Hunter locked into this dead end industry,” said Smiles.

“Local communities believe that enough of the Hunter has been sacrificed to the coal industry and it is time to move on to more diverse, lower impact industries that will employ more people.”


Hear Hear! I trusted the gov to look after my families health. What a fool i was. I constantly feel guilty that i exposed my precious child to these carcinogens. Where the hell is the Health Dept and why is it so silent. Why have we let these foxes run riot in our productive hen homes? from long wall, open cut, transport on road & rail. subsidence, failed complaince all self monitored and consultants well paid. Indigenous cultures destroyed and displaced Kooris being made authorities on our sacred grounds. Aquifers ruined, toxic fly ash abounds and increases with no planning for its storage & reuse. Marine ecosystems are being filtered 24 /7 thru cooling canals in unsustainable quantities. Enough selenium, cadmium, mercury, sulphur & arsenic! There is no genuine rehabilitation and with new biosecurity issues like myrtle rust, it is foolish to think we can re create diverse precious flora & fauna networks. I love this country & i trusted politicians to do the right thing. all i see is corruption, collusion & community exclusion! Few footy jerseys doesnt buy my town anymore.
Yes, you would expect the Health Department to be alerting and educating the public and trying to improve conditions. But it is actually more of an "Illness Department", focus on hospital beds, operations and services. The public health aspect is weak and ineffectual at best. Reflected perhaps in the fact that less than 3% of our "Health" budget goes into prevention. Added to that most Doctors and health workers are unaware of these public health risks and costs and not especially interested when they are raised. That is the nature of our over-specialized and fee-for-service mindset.
Yes, I agree (only because it's bloody obvious) that our health system is still miraculously better than most in the world in terms of serving the interests of the public, and shouldn't go down the privatisation nightmare hell-hole that has made life in America less than bearable for the last 30 yrs,. Australian and German models were the primary inspiration behind the Clinton model for universal health-care in the USA in the 90's. Pity it's gone backwards since then. Americans deserve much more than what they are currently getting from their 'so-called ' government. They seem to have this collectively reinforced ideal that tells them that the very concept of a government (although it's elected to represent the needs of the very people who live in the country) ,is communist...... It's like trying to convince the trained elephant that has grown up in shackles that's it is Free..... Almost impossible, because, that's all it has ever known!

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