The Queensland government has limited the ability of the public to object to a mining lease.
The Mining and Energy Resources Bill, passed on September 9, means only affected landholders, their neighbours or local councils can object to mining lease applications in the Land Court.
In a statement, campaign group Lock the Gate said: “In an 11th hour move, the Queensland government has silenced objections to mining projects across the state giving open slather to Indian coal billionaire Gautam Adani to develop the Galilee Basin into one of the largest coal precincts in the world.”
Lock the Gate Alliance President Drew Hutton said the move was an outrageous abuse of the parliamentary system and one of the most undemocratic acts the Queensland parliament had ever witnessed.
“The amendment was in direct contradiction to Mines Minister Andrew Cripps’ speech in parliament earlier in the evening and his assurances in the lead up to the bill that people would still be able to object to major mining projects,” he said.
“The minister has clearly misled the people of Queensland and the parliament. The government changed the Minerals and Energy Resources Act on Tuesday to remove the right to object to smaller mining projects under the guise of reducing green tape but at five minutes to midnight added another amendment that extended the changes to all mining projects statewide.
“The changes give the power of decision to a single man, the coordinator general, at whose whim the community’s right to question the environmental impact of massive new mines projects, like those in the Galilee Basin, will now rest.
“This means that if the coordinator general decides there are enough existing environmental conditions on a project, no one can object.
“All community concern about issues of health, environment and land use conflicts relating to mining projects has been gagged.
“The first beneficiary of this gag will be Adani and his plans to develop a series of mega mines in the Galilee Basin. Adani has been lobbying the federal and Queensland governments hard to get the environmental approvals for his development. He must be doing handsprings at this latest development.
“These mines will impact heavily on communities in central Queensland and on places of iconic value such as the Great Barrier Reef.
“The mega mines also threaten the Great Artesian Basin but no longer will anyone be allowed to object to projects like this. We have all been silenced.
“This is one of the most underhand and undemocratic moves the Queensland parliament has ever witnessed. It is the sort of thing you might expect from a despotic regime in a banana republic, not a developed nation with a well-established democratic tradition.
“The public has a right to know how and why these last-minute amendments were introduced and at whose call.”