The People’s Bill, an initiative of the Lock the Gate Alliance to oppose the growing coal seam gas and coal industries, was launched in Brisbane on September 4.
The People’s Common Rights and Provisions Bill 2014 would amend the Mineral Resources Act to give land holders, local governments, Aboriginal communities and others the power to deny mining companies access to their land.
The “bill” is a response to a raft of amendments by the Queensland government, which were passed on September 8, that curtail the rights and citizens and approve environmental destruction. The new laws make it possible to fine or jail people who protest or criticise mining leases.
The People’s Bill, on the other hand, would:
• allow land holders to refuse access of mining companies to their land,
• allow local government and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to refuse rights to mining companies,
• allow residents “quiet enjoyment” of their property,
• protect social fabric by restricting fly-in-fly-out and 24/7 operations,
• give local communities right to object and overturn approvals,
• prevent mining companies from making donations to political parties,
• mandate full disclosure of political donations.
More than 100 people attended the launch of the document, which was symbolically tabled in the chamber of the state’s former upper house. Lock the Gate will host an open debate on the bill on October 28. A community referendum on the bill will follow, which will coincide with the state election.
Lock the Gate said the bill aims to spark a movement to restore balance to Queensland politics and its links with “out-of-control” mining, and “put the public back into the process”.
Speakers at the launch included Lock the Gates Alliance founder Drew Hutton, who declared that Campbell Newman’s government was worse than Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s.
“We should have the right to say no to mining, to enjoy your own home, to be represented in parliament, to clean water and air and to clean politics,” Hutton said.
Kim Garrick, who was sacked by Brisbane Port for displaying a Lock the Gate sign on her car, spoke of the health impacts of dust from uncovered coal trains in metropolitan Brisbane.
Farmer Sarah Miles said CSG mining threatened agricultural water supplies: “1% of all Australia’s fresh water is surface water, 70% of the Great Artesian Basin is in Queensland. This resource is being stolen by CSG drilling.”
She invited all present to take part in the Beyond Coal and Gas Conference at Ivory’s Rock over October 24-27.
Human rights lawyer Stephen Pyne gave the keynote address on the bill.
He said: “We need a people’s movement, as there is a huge gap between what is desirable and what is possible, we need more people to be in action.
“We have a right to clean politics. We need a movement of dreamers … for a new future because Queensland needs a lot of fixing.”
[The full People’s Common Rights and Provisions Bill 2014 can be viewed here.]