Vale Rory McCourt

Rory McCourt, in his 70s, died on Sunday 10th May following a dreadful illness. He fought hard for the environment of the Whitsundays. Rory also advocated on wider environmental issues.

He lived at Shute Harbour, having moved from Sydney after a successful creative career around 20 years ago. He was a leading figure amongst those concerned about Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays, especially as a key person on the management committee in the local group Save Our Foreshore (SOF) formed in October 2004. 

SOF fought the proposed hotel development on Airlie’s foreshore, with Rory also playing a leading role campaigning against other inappropriate developments including the proposed Shute Harbour Marina development, which is still active.  He established links with Mackay Conservation Group and others beyond the Whitsundays.  

Rory had a calm, warm and gentle nature offering an intelligence and humour. It was always good to listen to his thoughts over dinner, or when talking with others providing a careful, thoughtful but persistent advocacy. He would not be ruffled in a heated discussion.

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We can't count on coal to dig us out of an economic hole

This week the Queensland Resources Council released a wish-list of mining projects it wants fast-tracked by our government, including six coal mines in the Galilee Basin and several in the Bowen and Surat Basins. Most of those mines are still undergoing federal and state assessment processes, including developing Environmental Impact Statements. Others have not been able to obtain finance. A High Court challenge by farmers over threats to water supply stands in the way of another.

Thermal coal (the type that produces electricity) has suffered from declining prices for nearly two years. It was selling for US$120 per tonne in July 2018 but by April this year it was less than half that price. According to respected industry analyst, Rory Simington of Wood Mackenzie, 30 per cent of Australia’s thermal coal mines are currently unprofitable due to low prices. 

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How politicians walked away from science for Adani

A recent report published in Nature Sustainability provides a thorough examination of the approval process for Adani’s underground water licence. The authors are some of Australia's leading water experts. They examine the evidence from all parties and show that there is still significant uncertainty about the water source of the ancient Doongmabulla Springs and 150 associated wetlands.

The assessment process was political from the start. The federal environment minister's approval came just hours before the government went into caretaker mode for the 2019 election. At the time, the Queensland environment minister commented that the decision "reeks of political interference". The federal minister had come under intense pressure from within the government to approve the water plan even though it wasn't complete. Mackay Conservation Group's concern was that the pre-election federal sign off on the water license was a rushed decision that didn't permit a full examination of the scientific evidence.

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What happens when you ask a marsupial to improve your life?

After finding some gliders living in a nesting box at his place, Tom Curtis recently pondered whether they had a better life than him. He wondered whether life would be calmer as a possum, without all the worries that Covid-19 and other crazy world events have brought. In response he received a letter from a marsupial living in the big Moreton Bay Ash in his garden. 

Dear Tom,
Thank you for your letter asking to become a glider and live in our tree. This raises a couple of points. Firstly, we don't have any magical powers to turn people into small and incredibly-cute marsupials. If you therefore remain at 65kg, with no gliding membranes between your arms and legs, we think you will struggle to survive launching yourself into space from a 30ft Moreton Bay Ash.

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Selective hearing on science

Every day during the Coronavirus epidemic there has been at least one state or national leader holding a news conference outlining the situation and their plans to keep us all safe. Every one of them was flanked by a senior medical expert to lend scientific credibility to their statements. During this crisis, Australians have trusted scientists, yet when it comes to the climate crisis politicians scoff at the scientific evidence.

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Love your children

by Peter McCallum, Coordinator, Mackay Conservation Group

The most intense moments of my life have been witnessing the birth of my children. New life entering the world filled me with love, hope and enormous responsibility. 

No parent would intentionally place their child in danger. The opposite is true. Parenting is a process of protecting a new young life, while giving the child the opportunity to learn to live independently. 

Maybe that’s why I despair for the future. I have two beautiful grandchildren whose journeys are just beginning. But what sort of world will they inherit from me?

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Media Release - Urannah Dam won't help Queensland Recover

7 May 2020

Mackay Conservation Group has questioned the Queensland Government’s support of a proposal to spend $2.9 billion on Urannah Dam in Central Queensland saying this is not the best use of public funds to enable an economic recovery.  

The Urannah Dam Project which was first proposed in the 1960s, was progressed today when the Queensland Coordinator General declared it a new coordinated project.

Mackay Conservation Group coordinator, Peter McCallum, said “Queensland and Australia are facing an extraordinary crisis, the Queensland Government has proposed to progress another $2.9 billion pipe-dream.  

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Peabody job cuts are just the beginning

Media Release

30 April 2020

Today's news that coal mining giant Peabody Energy will be cutting its workforce by ten per cent shows the danger of relying on resource industries according to Mackay Conservation Group.

Peabody Energy says it will lay off 570 staff in Australia and the United States as it grapples with the effects of bushfires, floods and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Mackay Regional Council- Candidate Climate Survey Results

Voting in council elections can be difficult. Even long term residents can find it hard to find candidates that they can confidently say represent their values or policy views.

With this in mind, the Mackay Conservation Group surveyed all 21 candidates running for election in the Mackay Regional Council about their views on key climate change issues.

The survey asked council candidates to share their views on three questions all related to climate change. Candidates were asked to respond by indicating their level of support.

The questions were:

  • Do you support Mackay Regional Council declaring a climate emergency?
  • Will you support Mackay Regional Council planning for a zero net emissions regional economy by 2050?
  • Do you support the diversification of the Mackay region’s economy and a just transition for workers in thermal coal mines?
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Mackay Climate Petition

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