If you can’t decide who to vote for in the Queensland state election, lend me your ear. Today I’m wearing my Friends of the Earth hat and this week, the week of the hastily cobbled together Queensland election, the Earth needs you more than ever.
You can’t talk about the environmental issues in Queensland without talking about corruption, which the LNP has in spades:
“Here we Joh again” people are saying. Newman is desperately trying to distance himself from the widely disliked Prime Minister Tony Abbott, when he should be distancing himself from Joh Bjelke-Petersen who he has been compared to since he stacked the Criminal and Misconduct Commission with LNP hacks. His government has been having some very public arguments in the media with the Queensland Bar Association & Tony Fitzgerald, (architect of the Fitzgerald inquiry into police corruption), who condemned changes to corruption laws and political donation transparency laws. These changes have allowed the LNP to raise funds without the scrutiny of anti-corruption bodies
…$700000 to the LNP by coal miners linked to the go-ahead of the Newhope mine at Acland…
This has led to a waterfall of dodgy campaign donations which are prompting the fast tracking of developments and removal of ‘green tape’
- $16500 in donations by developers leading to fast-tracking of environmentally questionable Caboolture marina;
- $700000 to the LNP by coal miners linked to the go-ahead of the Newhope mine at Acland (which is, unfortunately for Newman, the hometown of shock jock Alan Jones, who he is currently suing). This week it has been revealed that then science minister and later acting minister of state development Ian Walker took donations New Hope Group for his 2012 election campaign, and subsequently oversaw its application to expand the mine. New Hope Group hired Walker’s daughter, Alice as a communications officer last year. Walker was science minister when his department approved dust emission levels from uncovered trains carrying coal from mines in August 2013, and as state dev minister oversaw the EIS process;
- the latest in a string of corruption fiascos: Gold Coast MP ‘Mermaid’ Ray Stevens could face an investigation into his proposed cable car development at Springbrook, in a World Heritage National Park area, with Steven preferring to do a little aggressive dance rather than answer journos questions;
- the underhanded Cash-for-Access scheme where if you gave a minister enough cash you got his ear, and used the process to avoid having to declare donations levels;
- $11m in donations that have gone under the radar due to Newman’s dodgy changes to donation laws.
Newman has managed to alienate a huge range of people with widespread sacking of public servants (near to 20,000 of them) including over 5000 nurses, doctors and health staff, leading to a health system in chaos with record low moral the Nurses Union claims put people’s lives at risk. They then had the audacity to give themselves a $1000 a week pay rise.
Others have been alienated by the VLAD laws (Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Act), baby of Attorney General Bleijie (pronounced Blaay-he), that target members of motorbike clubs, dispensing with the age-old tradition of presumption of innocence by tarring everyone who knows or associates with motorcycle club members with the same brush, and removing their right to trade certificates etc so they can’t work. This has extended to the tattoo industry where business owners cannot get licences if they were ever in a bikie gang (say – in their misspent youth). BTW the police admit bikes are a small problem causing less than 1% of crime
The LNP received $375000 in donations from the liquor industry and in return cutting red tape for them, while criminalising youth drinking with party laws and cutting money to services that help victims of alcoholic fuelled violence and addiction; closing schools and selling off public assets for short-term revenue raising; scrapping the $53m Skilling Queenslanders for Work scheme for apprenticeships and training while at the same time gutting youth mental health and homelessness support services, sometimes with dire consequences. The state has seen a 15% increase in DV, which Newman has decided is not a crime in his campaigning about crime rates (in an effort to reduce the appearance of crime rates).
- See How Evil is Campbell Newman? for a comprehensive list
More environmental shockers from the LNP include:
- Climate change denialists: like Abbott, the Newman govt restructured depts to get rid of anything to do with climate change and renewable energy, including the vindictive sacking of the husband of the previous premier, Anna Bligh. In December last year deputy premier Jeff Seeney ordered the removal of all references to climate change in the Moreton Bay regional plan;
- More mine approvals & spending: He has ‘streamlined’ the approval process for coal-mining and is throwing money at it in the form of $2bn Abbott Pt coal loading facility paid with taxpayers money to support mining in the Galilee Basin by multinational mining companies including Adani (an Indian company owning the Charmicheal mine), GVK Hancock (Gina Reinhart’s Alpha & Kevin’s corner mines) and Waratah Coal (Clive Palmer’s China First mine)
…In December last year deputy premier Jeff Seeney ordered the removal of all references to climate change in the Moreton Bay regional plan…
- 20 new open cut mines are earmarked for the Warwick region alone over the next 12 years with exploration leases granted for the ENTIRE towns of Warwick, Pittsworth and Southbrook – all high quality farmland,
- Overturned prohibition on uranium mining, although the bottoming out of the uranium market has not seen any mines go ahead yet, despite the cheers of the mining industry
- while the CSG industry goes ahead unabated against farmer protests and water contamination incidences unfolding
- changing laws to allow continued sand mining until 2035 on Stradbroke Is after receiving $1m donation from miner Sibelco whose lease ended in 2019
- This has been perceived by a lot of farmers as a sell-out by their traditional political representatives, many of them former National voters who are now besieged by CSG and coal mines threatening their livelihoods and heritage.
…changing laws to allow continued sand mining until 2035 on Stradbroke Is after receiving $1m donation from miner Sibelco whose lease ended in 2019…
- The whole reef dredging fiasco – planning initially to dump the spoils in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, then on a sensitive wetland – even after all the international banks pulled their funding for the idea on “Moral grounds”. The govt now suggest using dredge material to build rail embankments and a land reclamation area for port activities
- Land Clearing: no it hasn’t gone away, QLD has land clearing rates on par with the Congo, with the LNPs possibly illegal permitting of broadscale clearing of 30,000 hectares on just one property in FNQ. Despite promising to “leave existing legislation in tact” prior to the 2012 election “to allow clearing in some riparian areas, allow clearing for ‘high value agriculture’ (undefined), remove protections regrowing native bushland”
- Repealing the Wild Rivers legislation, protecting pristine refugia for biodiversity
- Hating on National Parks – Allowed cattle-grazing in some Nps, Facilitating commercial development within NPs. Allowed logging in conservation reserves earmarked for future NP status. Tore up the SEQ Forest Agreement, preventing areas slated for protection from being made into new NPs (TWS)
- Undercutting fair and reasonable objections to developments by ordinary citizens: Possibly the worst thing he has done to damage democratic process and endanger the environment is to change the law regarding objections to mining so that only people directly affected by it (ie. Their houses will get bulldozed) are allowed to object, thereby giving more rights to mining companies than citizens. They did this unannounced, during a late night Parliament sitting, because they knew we wouldn’t like it. Not much to like, really.
They did this unannounced, during a late night Parliament sitting, because they knew we wouldn’t like it.
What is FoE doing?
- Well Foeb has put a lot of energy into the G20 in the past year, and I think that paid off in the global condemning of state and federal govt as environmental climate vandals
- 6 degrees who exclusively work on coal issues – they spearheaded a legal battle against the Alpha mine, which was still approved despite a raft of damaging effects including the destruction of the Bimblebox nature reserve
- collaborating with Stop Brisbane Coal trains and Clean Air QLD to expose the dangers of coal transport in qld at an election campaign launch
- collaborating with Lock the Gate on CSG issues
- a long running uranium mining watchdog campaign with the Qld Nuclear Free Alliance
For a pre-election snapshot on the environment I recommend visiting The Wilderness Society website: