National Park Commercialisation Plan Outrages Environmentalists

Media Release

7 November 2018

Steven_Nowakowski_05_medium.jpg

Photo: Zoe Bay on Hinchinbrook Island - Steven Nowakowski

Mackay Conservation Group has launched a campaign against a Queensland Government plan to allow private tourism development in three of the state’s iconic national parks.

Last month the Tourism Minister, Kate Jones, issued a statement calling for expressions of interest from private tourism operators to build accommodation and conduct private walking tours in Hinchinbrook, Whitsunday Islands and Great Sandy national parks. 

In a document on a government website, private developers are being offered 30 year exclusive leases on current national park land plus a 30 year option. The government will also fast track the assessment process. In the case of Whitsunday Islands national park the government is also offering private developers a $5 million subsidy to assist with accommodation construction.

Mackay Conservation Group has launched a petition, which has collected over 700 signatures, calling on the state government to scrap its plans.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

EcoPress November 2018

How Will We Stop Adani Opening Its Mega-Mine?

The world is facing a climate crisis and the next Australian federal election is a crucial moment that will decide the world's future. We're asking you to volunteer a couple of hours of your time to help our campaign to change Australia's and the Earth's future.

Two weeks ago we heard from the world's leading climatologists, the IPCC, that the world must stop burning coal by 2050 if we have any chance of maintaining a livable climate into the future. Every week Australia emits about 5 cubic kilometres of carbon-dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. That makes global air temperature hotter, rainfall less predictable, more intense cyclones and bleaches the Great Barrier Reef. It also presents a real challenge to future Australians when they try to reduce the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere.

Imagine trying to find 5 cubic kilometres of safe and secure underground storage, that's a pretty big job. Then multiply that by 30 years worth of CO2. About 7,500 cubic kilometres of storage must be found to secure the gas that will be emitted between now and 2050. If we start reducing our carbon-dioxide emissions today the future problem becomes much more achievable.

This week Adani announced it is close to financing its DSC_1297.jpgdisastrous mega-mine near Clermont west of Mackay with the aim of commencing construction early in 2019. The Carmichael Mine will operate for 60 years and produce up to 60 million tonnes of coal every year. It must never be opened so it's time for us to ramp up our campaign. 

Australia has a choice to make about whether we make the shift to renewable energy or continue to mine coal and destroy the Great Barrier Reef, putting all forms of life at risk. The federal election in May 2019 will be crucial in that decision but right now, neither major party has a policy to rule out new coal projects.

Even though most people in Australia oppose Adani's mine, politicians believe they can cruise to the next federal election without making a commitment to stop it. It's time they started to feel the heat of our campaign and make clear policies to Stop Adani and urgently reorganise our energy system to make life safe for everyone. 

We're asking you to make a commitment to lend a few hours to support our campaign. No matter where you live you can help. Over the next few months we'll be knocking on doors in Mackay and other parts of Central Queensland to find out what people think about Adani and climate change and let them know how they can help. We'll be writing letters to politicians of all persuasions. We'll be making phone calls. We'll have stalls at markets. We'll be surveying community opinion. That's just for starters. So please sign our volunteer pledge and let us know that you want to join this campaign.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

National Park Privatisation

The Queensland Government is pushing ahead to privatise parts of the state's most picturesque national parks by offering exclusive use to tourism developers for up to 60 years.

The first three parks affected will be Hinchinbrook Island, Whitsunday Island and the Great Sandy National Parks. The tourism minister says that other sites are being investigated for privatisation including the Gold Coast.

A document found on a government website reveals that the state is willing to give away publicly owned national park land to private operators. In the document the government says it is willing to provide private businesses with:

  • State-owned national park land for private eco-accommodation development;
  • exclusive ground leases for a term of up to 30 years plus one up to 30 year option to operate the private eco-accommodation;
  • assistance during the approvals process;
  • a coordinated “one government” approach to comply with other government requirements; and
  • a contribution of up to $5 million for eco-accommodation built along the Whitsunday Island Trail.

It appears the government wishes to rush this process through the assessment process (which it calls the approvals process ... it seems the outcome is already decided) by bringing the projects under the control of the Coordinator General. 

Please sign the petition on our website to voice your concern about the privatisation of our most valuable assets. 

Add your reaction Share

EcoPress October 2018

October 2018

Stop Adani Meeting
Thursday 11 Oct 5.30pm
Volunteers Meeting
Tuesday 16 Oct 6.30pm
Beautiful Walk
Sunday 21 Oct 8.30am
Our next Stop Adani meeting will be on Thursday 11 October. We'll be celebrating the success of our recent doorknock and planning new activities for the upcoming crucial weeks in our campaign to keep coal in the ground.

The Environment Centre, 156 Wood St Mackay

Peter Rosier will present a talk on the Tragedy of the Commons. Some people are permitted to treat the environment as a dumping ground for the wastes of our industrial society, the worse things are for us all. Afterwards we'll hear about the current situation with Great Barrier Reef water quality and government responses.

The Environment Centre, 156 Wood St Mackay

 

 

Emma Barrett has another fantastic treat in store for us in less than two weeks. This month we're visiting the shorebirds that have migrated all the way from Siberia to overwinter on Mackay's sunny beaches. This annual migration is a very special part of living in Mackay so come along to our Beautiful Walk and learn about our precious wildlife.

The Environment Centre, 156 Wood St Mackay

Shorebirds & waders at Shellgrit Creek

The waders are almost back on Mackay's shores and we're going to welcome them in true MCG fashion with a Beautiful Walk! Each year, these little shorebirds travel long distances between Australia and the northern hemisphere, chasing the warmer weather. Some waders fly from countries as far away as Japan, China, Siberia and Alaska. After their arduous journey to Mackay, the waders spend the next 6 months resting and feeding on our coasts. We're excited to welcome the new arrivals and would love you to join us!

Guest speakers from Birdlife Mackay will be on hand to identify bird species and tell us more about their behaviour and ecology. It's a great opportunity to get outdoors and discover the nature at our doorstep with other like-minded people.
Please wear enclosed shoes and appropriate clothing. Don't forget your water bottle, sunscreen, hat and binoculars!

RSVP your place today, we will book out soon. 

 

 

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Beautiful Walk with the waders at Shellgrit Creek

The arrival of the waders is one of the most anticipated events for Mackay's bird and nature lovers!

Waders include species such as oystercatchers, curlews, dotterels and sand plovers. These little shorebirds follow the warmer weather by migrating annually between Australia and countries as far away as Siberia, China and Japan! After their incredible journey to Mackay, these birds spend the next 6 months (Oct - Mar) on our coasts, resting and feeding. 

To welcome the waders, we are excited to be holding a Beautiful Walk at Shellgrit Creek on Sunday 21 October. Joining us will be BirdLife Mackay to help with bird identification and talk to us about their behavior and migration paths. 

Join us for this opportunity to see the waders up close, get outdoors and enjoy it with other like-minded people!

Bookings are essential to secure your spot!

RSVP HERE!

WHEN
Sunday 21 October, 8:30am - 10:30am
WHERE
Illawong Drive
South Mackay, Queensland 4757
Australia

Contact: 
Emma Barrett · emma@mackayconservationgroup.org.au · 0437742747

Add your reaction Share

Why Adani is wrong in saying they did not pollute the Reef and Caley Valley Wetlands during Cyclone Debbie

Adani has repeatedly claimed it did nothing wrong in relation its management of Abbot Point coal terminal during Cyclone Debbie. The reality is that Adani did cause pollution. Here are the facts:

Temporary Emissions Licence

On 28 April 2017, the Department of Environment & Science (formerly Dept of Environment & Heritage Protection - DEHP) issued Adani with a retrospectively amended Temporary Emissions Licence for the company’s coal terminal at Abbot Point.

The licence permitted Adani to increase the concentration of contaminants flowing into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the Caley Valley wetlands from the 30 milligrams per litre (mg/L) to 100mg/L.

Exceedance of TEL

After the cyclone Adani reported to the Queensland Government that the concentration of contaminants measured in water samples collected at the location that flowed into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (known as W2) was 806mg/L. Those samples were collected using an automated process. The concentration of contaminants exceeded the temporarily permitted limit by more than 800%.

At the other authorised location (called W1), which flowed into the Caley Valley Wetlands, samples were collected after staff returned to the site following the cyclone. At the time of collection the concentration was 80mg/L which was below the temporary limit. However, there were no samples collected during the event so nobody knows whether the limit was exceeded at any time while the licence was in operation.

Government fine

On 3 May 2017 the head of Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Jim Reeves, said that Adani could face a penalty of $3.8 million for a wilful breach of its licence. However, on 20 July DEHP issued Adani with a $12,190 fine for the breach. On 24 August the ABC reported that Adani had informed DEHP that it would contest the fine. The government has until 7 September 2018 to decide whether to take the matter to court.

Wetlands

Public awareness of the coal spill followed aerial photographs taken after Cyclone Debbie indicating a significant flow of coal from stockpiles at the port into Caley Valley wetlands through release point W1. A July 2017 report by the Queensland government reports on a scientific assessment of the wetlands post Cyclone Debbie. Soil samples collected by the Queensland government were analysed by two companies, Australian Laboratory Services (ALS) and UQ Materials Performance (UQMP).

ALS analysed the samples using Australian Standards AS2856 Part 1 & 2 and found that coal made up 26.8% of the samples taken from Caley Valley shore and 15.4% of the samples from Caley Valley wetlands. The report says that these represent “quite a significant volume of coal”.

UQMP used an in-house analysis method and found that the samples contained 10% and 2% coal just near location W2 and trace contamination across the wetlands.

In Adani’s 27 August 2018 statement the company quotes a Queensland government report that says there is little visual evidence of coal fines across the entire wetland.

Mackay Conservation Group visited the Caley Valley wetlands on 27 & 28 April 2017 following an invitation from Queensland’s environment minister. We had been told that we would be able to collect soil samples at the site but on arrival people representing Adani told us we could not collect any samples or photographs. During our visit we observed significant coverage of coal fines in the parts of the wetland we were permitted to visit. The Queensland Government photo above shows significant coal contamination in the soil sample taken in the Caley Valley wetlands. More photos from the site inspection can be found here

Adani has been required by the Queensland Government to undertake an environmental evaluation into the causes and impacts of the coal spill into the Caley Valley wetlands. Adani has appealed this requirement and the case will be heard in October 2018.

For a more extensive background document on this issue see this article on our website.

Add your reaction Share

Croc threat overblown

Media Release: Crocodiles less threatening to human life than bees

crocodile_salt_water_crocodile_australia_reptile_wildlife_carnivore_croc_teeth-668715.jpg!d.jpgConservationists will today call on a Queensland parliamentary committee to reject legislation that would reintroduce mass slaughter of wild crocodiles in the state.

The Queensland Parliament’s Innovation, Tourism Development and Environment Committee will hold public hearings on the Safer Waterways Bill at Mackay today.

Mackay Conservation Group coordinator, Peter McCallum, said that crocodiles do pose a threat to human life but the risk has been overblown.

Last year, Bob Katter, a federal MP, claimed that a person was killed by a crocodile every three months in North Queensland.

Conservationists have disputed that claim.

“Since 1985 there have been 11 fatal crocodile attacks in Queensland. That’s about one every three years,” Mr McCallum said.

“By comparison one Australian dies from complications of bee sting every six months.”

“It’s easy to drum up fear, even when the threat is minimal.”

“Mackay Conservation Group will be calling on the committee to reject fearmongering and rely on the clear scientific evidence when making its recommendation on the proposed law.”

From the 1940s to 1970s crocodiles were killed in large numbers, mostly by hunters hoping to cash in on high international prices for crocodile skin.

Saltwater crocodiles were pushed towards extinction in Australia until Queensland reluctantly enacted legislation to ban wild crocodile killing in 1974.

As late as 1988, saltwater crocodiles were listed as endangered.

Since then crocodile numbers have recovered to the point that they are no longer considered vulnerable to extinction.

On average 8 Queenslanders die each year in boating accidents.

Add your reaction Share

Special Beautiful Walk for September

We're excited to invite you to our next Beautiful Walk at the Lex Creek Nature Refuge on Sunday 16th September, in the spectacular Eungella region! We will be taken for a private tour of the property by the owner Colin Creighton, who was awarded an Australian Medal for his innovative work in environmental science and sustainable agriculture. The majority of Colin's property is rainforest, which rolls down to Broken River - a popular site to spot the elusive platypus. 

In addition to conserving rainforest on his land, Colin practices sustainable grazing, where livestock are crash grazed and fenced off from waterways which lead into the Great Barrier Reef. His property also includes a plantation of native Hoop Pine, garlic crops and partially supports two share farmers and their families.

Join us on this special Beautiful Walk, as we walk through rainforest and farmland, spot wildlife and learn how agriculture and environmental conservation can coexist!

Bookings are essential to secure your spot!

RSVP HERE!

WHEN
Sunday 16 September, 10am - 2pm
WHERE
Lex Creek Nature Refuge and Silky Oaks
Crediton, Queensland 4757
Australia

Contact:
Emma Barrett · emma@mackayconservationgroup.org.au · 0437742747

Add your reaction Share

Secret docs: Adani knew it would pollute Reef - Gets off Scot Free


MEDIA RELEASE

10 August 2018

Qld govt fails to prosecute Adani for breaking law, polluting Reef waters

Adani tries to block documents showing it knew pollution would occur

Previously secret documents show Adani and the Qld Department of the Environment knew that water, containing high concentrations of coal pollutants, would be released from Adani’s Abbot Point coal terminal into Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area waters during Cyclone Debbie, in breach of even the special licence to pollute that was issued to Adani at the time.

Despite a clear breach of Adani’s license to pollute, it is now 16 months since Cyclone Debbie and the Queensland government has as yet failed to launch prosecution proceedings after Adani challenged its $12,190 fine.

In a lengthy process, Adani sought to block Mackay Conservation Group’s right to information request. A backgrounder, with links to the documents and the Information Commissioner’s judgment, can be found here.

Coordinator of the Mackay Conservation Group, Mr Peter McCallum said, “This proves once again that Adani can’t be trusted and sees itself as above the law. Adani mustn’t get off scot-free. The Queensland government must launch a prosecution in the next few weeks otherwise the time will expire.

“Adani has challenged their measly $12,190 fine, despite admitting to intentionally breaching its pollution licence by more than 800 per cent and allegedly submitting an altered laboratory report.

“The company is also in court appealing an order that it examine pollution of the Abbot Point Caley Valley wetlands and consider a new water management strategy, in an attempt to bully the Government into a cheaper, less effective investigation.

“North Queenslanders don’t want a mining company which thumbs its nose at regulation designed to protect our precious environment.

“Just last week Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said Queensland has some of the strictest environmental measures in world which Adani is subject to.

“It’s now up to Minister Enoch to show Queenslanders that she will enforce these environmental laws and do no more special favours for Adani.

“The secret documents show Adani knew that the concentration of contaminants that flowed into the waters of the Great Barrier Reef was likely to be in the range of 500 to 900mg/L, well above the 100 mg/L allowed by even its temporary license to pollute issued during the storm.

“The port where Adani operates is frequently subject to severe weather. Over the past five decades, 23 tropical cyclones have passed within 100km of the site.

“Considering Adani is seeking approval to increase the amount of coal that goes through its port by 10 million tonnes a year, the Queensland government must require Adani clean up its act and stormproof the terminal to prevent future pollution.

“The public should be confident that the Queensland Government is committed to ensuring Adani causes no more harm to the Great Barrier Reef, our state’s unique wildlife, our precious water or the cultural heritage values of the indigenous community,” Mr McCallum said.

Contact: Peter McCallum 0402 966 560 for comment.

1 reaction Share

RTI docs show Adani & Qld govt knew Reef pollution at Abbot Pt likely

A Right To Information request by Mackay Conservation Group (MCG) has resulted in the release of previously secret documents which reveal that both Adani and the Queensland Government were well aware that water, containing high concentrations of pollutants, could be released from Adani’s Abbot Point coal terminal into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area during Cyclone Debbie, in breach of even the special licence to pollute that the Department of Environment issued at the time.

After the cyclone Adani admitted to breaching its Temporary Emissions Licence (TEL) by more than 800% of the amount of coal polluted water allowed to be released into the Reef coast. Adani subsequently spent a year attempting to block the release of documents that would reveal what the company knew about the concentration of pollutants that could flow into the environment. In agreeing to release the information, the Right to Information Commissioner criticised Adani’s arguments for blocking the documents as “too speculative or conjectural to form a reasonably based expectation” that it could prejudice an ongoing investigation into a possible contravention of the TEL.

Despite a clear breach of Adani’s licence to pollute, it is now sixteen months since the cyclone and it appears that the Queensland government has failed to yet launch proceedings to prosecute Adani for unlawfully releasing coal polluted water into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The latest advice from the Department is that it has until 7 September 2018 to launch a prosecution.

Meanwhile Adani is:

  • challenging the Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN) of $12,190 for the breach and, as part of proceedings, was alleged to have submitted an altered laboratory report about the concentration of contaminants released to the marine environment;
  • appealing the Queensland Environment Department’s decision to require that they carry out an environmental investigation as a result of the discharge during the cyclone into the Caley Valley Wetlands at Abbot Point, to look at causes and impacts
  • seeking approval from the Queensland government to increase the amount of coal that goes through its Abbot Point Port by 10 million tonnes per annum, yet failing to ensure its terminal is more storm proof and likely to pollute.

The previously secret documents, released under RTI are here. The judgment by the Queensland Information Commission is here.

An extensive blog  on the pollution incident at Abbot Point, and how events unfolded, has been prepared by the Queensland Environmental Defenders Office and can be found here.

Read more
Add your reaction Share