It would be wonderful to think that this year would be a quiet one for Mackay Conservation Group with nobody wanting to engage in environmentally damaging development, mining companies recognising that they are morally obliged to rehabilitate the land and that governments took strong action to slow climate change. We can only hope!
So until that happens, we have planned a busy year and we'd really love you to be part of it. Join us and become a part of Mackay Conservation Group.
The Adani mine has been a major focus for MCG members for the past five years. We have worked with other organisations around Queensland and Australia to block the project. The Stop Adani movement has cut off Adani's finance sources, we have challenged their approvals and we haven't gone away. The community has moved and across Australia and here in Mackay there is overwhelming opposition to Adani. This week in the Daily Mercury we saw that mainstream farmers don't want the mine to proceed and do want more renewable energy. “We don’t need Adani. More solar, more wind” said Randall Ford (centre) and Gordon Galletly (left) is concerned about Adani's unlimited access to water which is already in limited supply.
Adani isn't finished yet but this year will be the turning point. Townsville Mayor has set August 8 as the deadline for Adani to commence work at their mine site or the council will withdraw support. She's obviously feeling the pressure from her community. Labor hasn't made its position on Adani clear yet but we will keep working on them and the more sensible members of the Coalition to say no to the mine.
Since 2015, Mackay Conservation Group has been highlighting the need to reform the process of mine rehabilitation in Queensland. There are over 15,000 abandoned mine sites in the state. Of the 220,000 hectares disturbed by the mining industry only 600 hectares have been certified as fully rehabilitated. The industry has commenced rehabilitation on 18,000 hectares or about 8 percent.
The Queensland Government currently holds about $9 billion in mine rehabilitation bonds and most of those bonds are discounted by 30%, so we know that there is at least $13 billion of rehabilitation work to be done in Queensland. That represents business opportunities for local companies and lots of jobs for local workers. We're working on making sure that Mackay receives a fair share of the jobs that will flow from the new mine rehabilitation regime.
We have been collaborating closely with the farmers’ environmental group Lock the Gate to pressure for reform of mine rehabilitation policy in this state. Farmers are worried that mining companies will be allowed to walk away from mines leaving huge holes in the ground that permanently drain and/or pollute water tables, making the surrounding countryside unproductive. We are concerned that mining companies will never restore the ecosystems to what they were before mining.
Join our mine rehabilitation reform campaign and help us to put pressure on the Queensland Government to reform the mining industry.
Mackay Conservation Group has been supporting a local community group, CQ Renew, to push for a greater uptake of solar and other renewable energy in the region, especially by business. CQ Renew has successfully attracted funds to conduct a forum at the MECC on 7 April to show how renewable energy can save businesses and farmers money and increase profits. Mackay Regional Council has made a generous financial contribution to this project in the form of a grant to enable CQ Renew to use the MECC free of charge.
Sign up for the forum by clicking here
Our region has become a hot spot for land clearing in Queensland. The most recent State Land and Tree Survey showed that nearly 400,000 hectares of woodland and other forest was cleared in a single year. We have heard appalling stories of wildlife deaths in the region and have witnessed very inappropriate actions that threaten the health of our waterways and the Great Barrier Reef. The Queensland Government will soon pass legislation to reintroduce controls on land clearing and we will continue to pressure for stronger controls, including in urban areas.
Thanks to the support of our generous donors, Mackay Conservation Group will soon employ a new community outreach officer to reactivate our Beautiful Walks program. Those environmental walks last about two hours and go to places near Mackay that have significant environmental values. Beautiful Walks are very well attended, attracting 40 to 70 participants. They give our community an opportunity to observe natural locations first hand, to learn from experts about ecological processes. They're also a great way to socialise with like-minded people. We have recently applied for a grant to buy camera and computer equipment that will enable us to make some short movies highlighting the best locations that represent Mackay.
Our outreach officer will also be engaging with schools and members of the public around a number of themes such as plastic pollution, the importance of wetlands and climate change. We will establish displays at the environment centre and elsewhere so that people can obtain a deeper understanding of the importance of the natural environment.
Plastics and Waste
This year we will have a strong emphasis on the impact of rubbish. MCG has been supporting the Boomerang Bags project for nearly one year which uses volunteer labour and donated materials to produce reusable cloth shopping bags to replace single use plastics that can end up in the ocean and kill wildlife. We have also been in discussion with council staff about how we can raise funds to enable the council to expand the gross pollutant traps program. We are in the process of working with business to find a source of funding. Mackay Conservation Group has made the first steps in engaging with Reef Guardian schools to install drain stencils to ensure students understand that everything that lands on the ground eventually makes its way to the ocean. This program may be rolled out across the city with support from council.
Come along to find out more
We hold general meetings at 7pm on the second Tuesday of each month at the Environment Centre. Come along and share any concerns you have about local or global environmental issues and get together with a bunch of concerned local people to take positive action. Our Stop Adani group meets on the second and forth Thursday of the month at 5.30pm.