700 jockey the Government for a fair go this Melbourne Cup day

1 November 2016

Farmers, landholders and miners have joined forces in an unlikely alliance to protest new laws they claim could destroy local jobs and devastate local communities on the Darling Downs.

State Parliament is set to debate new underground water management laws that could, if passed, cause further lengthy delays in approvals for advanced mining projects like the New Acland mine near Oakey.

More than 700 community members from the Darling Downs will march on Parliament House today in a united show of strength against the introduction of the bill.

New Hope Group Chief Operating Officer, Andrew Boyd said the bill currently before the Parliament could have a massive impact on the New Acland mine’s ability to continue full scale operations into 2017.

"Time is quickly running out for New Acland and the over 700 plus employees and contractors who rely on the mine for their livelihood," Mr Boyd said.

"If the Environmental Protection (Underground Water Management) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill (EPOLA) is passed as drafted it could add at least a further 12 months to our approval process.

"The initial application for New Acland Stage 3 was made in 2007 and it has since been through no less than four state Governments. The goal posts just keep changing.

"Now the government wants us to re-visit the entire process without any prior notice."

Mr Boyd said the proposed legislation was introduced in to Parliament on September 13 without consultation and rushed through the committee process.

"The committee was given four weeks to report back to Parliament," Mr Boyd said. "Even the committee chair stated in his report that this was not enough time to fully investigate the impacts of this bill.

"Given the end result could be the direct loss of hundreds of jobs and putting in jeopardy a further 2,300 jobs across the region, this is just not good enough.

"We encourage the Minister to heed the committee’s advice and examine the impact this legislation will have on relevant mining licence holders’ short-term prospects, and the resulting impacts on affected communities."