Lock the Gate’s rally for the future

More than 250 farmers and their city cousins rallied at Queensland Parliament House on May 21 calling for an end to unconventional gas production and coal mining.

The rally was organised by Lock the Gate (Queensland). Farmers from the Bentley Blockade and Northern Rivers in NSW travelled to Brisbane for the rally.

Murri activist Sam Watson welcomed those present to country and introduced Adrian Burragubba from Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners of the land threatened by the expansion of coal mining in the Galilee basin. “The local Murri community have stated their opposition to the Adani application and will also fight against other mines earmarked by companies associated with Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer,” Burragubba said.

Chairing the rally, Drew Hutton from Lock the Gate said the theme of the rally was to put pressure on the Queensland ALP Government to deliver on its promises.

“The mines minister has just announced that he will allow exploration for shale gas expansion over 11,000 square kilometres in the Cooper and Eromanga basins. This is an area of pristine rivers, so the decision represents a broken election promise,” he said.

“My second concern relates to the application for Stage 3 of the Aclan coalmine outside Oakey, in the Darling Downs. Prior to 2012 the LNP stated it would not go ahead with this mine, but reversed this promise. The mining company concerned had given $1 million in donations to the LNP.

“The ALP government campaigned on rigourously inquiring into donations by developers and mining companies to political parties. They also promised to restore the rights of communities to oppose mining applications, which had been abolished under the LNP. No action has been taken on these two promises and it is likely that a decision will be made for the go ahead of Acland Stage 3 before legislation is passed.

“It is time to put pressure on the ALP to deliver on proper, not even radical, reforms on mining in this state,” Hutton said.

Independent Senator Glen Lazarus has circulated a petition calling for the establishment of a Royal Commission into the impacts on humans of coal seam gas (CSG) mining. The petition so far has 55,000 signatures. Lazarus called for an immediate moratorium on existing CSG projects with a view to scaling back and eventually closing down the industry.

“What I am concerned about is that people in affected communities are not being listened to. When I have a sufficient number of signatures on the petition I intend to shirt front Tony Abbott,” Lazarus told the rally.

Shay Dougall from the Hopeland community spoke of the daily impact that CSG mining had on her community. People are the collateral damage of the industry. Dougall also supported the call for a Royal Commission in to the human impact of CSG.

Bringing farmers, blockaders and city residents together to put pressure on the Queensland ALP government showed the potential strength of the movement. The shift in focus from protesting against the mining companies to putting pressure on ALP government was timely. The ALP is now on notice. The response from the Queensland government will show whether it, like the LNP, represents the interests of mining companies over the needs of communities.

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