Get Involved in Boomerang Bags

Boomerang Bags works to reduce the use of plastic bags by engaging local communities in the making of Boomerang Bags – community made, using recycled materials. Boomerang Bags provide a free, fun, sustainable alternative to plastic bags.

By getting involved, you are participating in a global movement, celebrating a grassroots initiative focusing on community building and sustainability.

Sign up here: mackayconservationgroup.org.au/boomerang_bags_signup

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International Women’s Day

Women are the leaders of the environmental movement worldwide. Today we're celebrating International Women's Day and the role that women take in the politics, research and organising that is at the core of our movement.

These are a few of the women who have contributed to our success over the past 30+ years. Thankyou for all your efforts.

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Living with the land

Mackay Conservation Group member Simon Gedda has been living on a grazing property south of Mackay all his life. Over the years his methods of managing the land have changed including his relationship with dingos. Here's his story...

What I see on our land...

We used to saturate our property with baits until I witnessed the harrowing and cruel death of some of my own dogs from 1080. I decided then that it was too risky for our dogs sake and stopped baiting to see what would happen. Well that was 25 years ago and I haven't baited since. It wasn't until about 10 years ago that I started to realise the importance of the dingo as an important predator in keeping kangaroos, wallabies, rabbits and pigs in check. Also, feral cats do not like hanging around dingo territory. I have seen dingoes chasing wild pigs through mobs of cattle and picking off the piglets one by one. 

I have observed dingoes mingling with unconcerned cows and calves around dams — week after week when all the natural waters have dried up — and came to the conclusion that if the cows aren't worried about them, then “why should I?”. We do have the odd one killed and a few bitten but in the whole scale of our operation it is minuscule and does not warrant retaliation . 

I feel the reason we don't have an issue with losses is that we are better at keeping the cows in good order so they can feed their calves properly so they are not an easy target, and also the cow has a better chance of protecting them. In fact we lose less calves and have fewer bitten now (some years none) than when we use to bait. I consider this to be a management issue. 

I have had a few of my own dogs killed because they wandered away from the safety of the homestead complex but that is my responsibility to make sure they are safe.

Dingoes actually have their own predators, that being Wedgetail Eagles and Carpet snakes when they are vulnerable in the first few weeks of their lives.

I see dingoes on our property, mainly reds with a few black and tans and to tell you the truth I have never seen a "wild dog". I have a respect for them as a major predator, and my fear would be to see the balance shift to the point where I wake up one day and see 50,000 kangaroos eating all our grass, as I witnessed on a property in Western QLD a few years ago. 

 

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Volunteer Positions Available

If you have a few hours to spare on a regular basis then we have some tasks that you may like to help with. If you are interested in any of these projects, please email info@mackayconservationgroup.org.au

 

Task

Description

Hours per week

Duration

Catalogue Library Our library of hundreds of books and reports on local and global environmental issues is currently out of action. We need someone to input the book titles into an online database so that people working on campaigns and projects can find materials. 1 to 8 Ongoing
Build storage shelves We have recently had a major clean-up at the Environment Centre and have reduced a lot of clutter but we still don't have enough storage for posters, campaign materials and files. If you have some carpentry skills and would like to help us build a new set of shelving then we'd love to hear from you. Variable  One off
Media Monitoring We have a great volunteer who reads the Daily Mercury each day and selects the environmental stories for us. We need someone to go through all the collected stories and put them in a database so we can easily retrieve them in the future.  1 to 3 Ongoing
Paper Shredding Our old financial records and other out of date files were taking up a lot of room at the Environment Centre. We have a paper shredder but we need someone to feed it. An easy job that could be combined with something else.  10 2
EcoPress Editor If you have a talent for writing and would like to put together our monthly newsletter then this is a very enjoyable and rewarding job. Most of the content is prepared by the staff. Your role would be to ensure that all the content that we want people to read is included and that the newsletter is published on time.  2 Ongoing
Membership manager Over the years we have lost touch with some of our members for one reason or another. We'd like a volunteer to make contact with former members and invite them to rejoin MCG. If you are really keen then you could also assist us to improve our membership flyer and ensure it is distributed widely. 1 20
Artist The front room of the Environment Centre is now our meeting room. It would be great to have a mural painted on at least one wall depicting the marine environment. If you have the skills to undertake a task like this then please let us know. Variable One off
Gardening We need someone to select some suitable species of small plants for the garden at the back of the environment centre then ensure they are planted and maintained until they are self sufficient. We're looking for bird and/or butterfly attractors from the local area. 10 One off
Boomerang Bags Coordinator The current coordinator of Boomerang Bags Mackay has had to take a break so we're looking for someone to take over this very worthwhile community project. 3 Ongoing
Development monitor A key role for Mackay Conservation Group is to respond to development applications. While most applications that come to council are minor, there are some big ones that we should be taking an interest in. We need someone to monitor the council websites for development notifications.  1 Ongoing
Planner If you have planning qualifications then you could assist us to respond to Development Applications by identifying the planning issues that council must consider when assessing a proposal.  Variable Ad hoc
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Help Us Expose Environmental Damage

Help Us Expose Environmental Damage

DJI_0019.jpgGathering evidence of the damage caused to our local environment can be difficult at times but has been vastly enhanced by drone technology. Over the past couple of years Mackay Conservation Group has cooperated with Lock the Gate and the World Wildlife Fund to obtain drone footage of the impacts of mining and excessive land clearing.

However, we haven't had access to a drone for our own work aimed at protecting Great Barrier Reef islands from inappropriate development, exposing poor performance in forestry operations and highlighting the impact of bad land management on our waterways. Using aircraft can be an expensive alternative. Last year it cost us over $700 to obtain aerial images of Lindeman Island. 

We want to be able to gather visual images that clearly illustrate the damage being done to our environment but we need some help. A quality drone plus the software and other equipment we need to run it will cost around $4000.

If you can donate a few dollars towards the purchase of a drone for MCG then we can do more to protect the our land and water. Please donate today.

 

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How are we rating 2018? It will be a big year!

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.

Climate Change

Cane farmers opposed to AdaniThe 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.

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Urannah dam doesn't make sense

Urannah dam has created many jobs over the years but only in the economics and engineering community. Over the past 50 years 18 studies have been undertaken into the feasibility of the dam by both government and non-government organisations. They have all concluded the same thing, the dam doesn't stack up. So we were surprised when the Federal Government floated the idea it would fund another $3 million feasibility study into the dam.

That feasibility study appears to be going nowhere. Media reports late last year indicate that the consortium that has been awarded the funding is wracked with infighting over how the money would be allocated so no work has been done. The Queensland Government has proposed that the money should be allocated to Sunwater. But when Sunwater last investigated Urannah dam it found the dam to be uneconomic.

Background

Kenny DoddThe proposed Urannah Dam is located within the Bowen and Broken River catchments, 95km north-east of Mackay adjacent to Eungella National Park. If it went ahead it would be built on land that is currently leased by the Queensland Government to the Urannah Properties Association. It is subject to a native title claim registered by the Widi people in 2006, which covers an area of approximately 5,400 square kilometres. The dam site contains important initiation grounds among other cultural heritage values. The Widi people continue to campaign strongly to retain their native title rights over the land. 

Economic analysis

Constructing Urannah Dam has been estimated to cost between $250 and $300 million. In 2016 Mackay Conservation Group engaged an engineer, Thomas Williams, to undertake a Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) of Urannah Dam. He determined that the dam would be uneconomic as it would return only $0.75 for every $1.00 invested. He found that there are cheaper ways to provide water for industrial purposes in the Galilee and Bowen Basins.

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How will climate change affect Mackay?

Mackay Conservation Group community organiser, Maggie Mckeown, recently made a presentation to Mackay Regional Council about the impacts of climate change on the region. Here's what she said.

20170328001301531293-minihighres-1-960x540.jpgMackay city is a low lying coastal city in an part of the world that is frequently threatened by tropical cyclones. Last year the city dodged a bullet when Cyclone Debbie changed course and did not arrive in Mackay. We know that there was an unprecedented level of preparation for the cyclone but all that would have been completely insufficient had Debbie made landfall in Mackay simultaneous with a 5.8 metre tide. Most of the urban area would have been inundated and potentially significant numbers of casualties. We have seen two very large cyclones in Northern Queensland over the past decade, Yasi and Debbie. Predictions are that cyclones will become larger and more destructive as ocean temperatures rise due to global warming. The cost of dealing with major climate related events is significant both locally and globally. Cyclone Debbie cost insurers $1.56 billion by November. That will undoubtedly lead to increased insurance premiums and increased difficulty in obtaining insurance for those in cyclone prone zones. The cost to the Queensland economy has been estimated at over $2 billion with mining, agriculture and tourism industries were severely disrupted by the cyclone.

The Mackay region is not alone in facing climate induced catastrophes. Right now we are witnessing Cape Town in South Africa, a city with a population of 3.7 million about to run out of water, the first city that magnitude to do so. The water supply failure has been blamed on poor city management but without three years of unprecedented drought the city would not be facing a crisis. Closer to home, Pacific Islanders in places such as Kiribati have seen sea level rise make parts of their island nation uninhabitable. Sixteen percent of the land area of India is dependent on glacial fed Himalayan streams. Those glaciers that maintain stream flows during summer and winter are melting. Initially that means more rapid flows and floods but in the long term it means drought and chronic food and water shortages. All these events and many more are inevitable consequences of a hotter climate which in turn is brought about by human burning of fossil fuels.

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What will this Mighty Force do next?

Stop_Adani_Batman_Crew.jpgLast week we premiered the brand new #StopAdani documentary A Mighty Force. With a combined membership of around two million people, the movement to stop Adani's unbankable mine will continue to grow and shift the politics on coal. 

The screening was made extra special, with local cane grower Michelle Ready who features in the film, explaining to the audience why she is so passionate about Stopping Adani. Her and her husband Viv work on their Finch Hatton cane farm that has been in the family for 60 years. Like majority of farmers in Queensland, they rely on groundwater resources to nourish their property, and they are concerned about the irreversible impacts that Adani's mine could have on Queensland's groundwater. 
It was a great turnout of locals, energised to up the ante on Mackay's campaign to stop Adani. If you want to learn more and get involved, come along to the next Stop Adani meeting or to the Finch Hatton screening of A Mighty Force.
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Adani's drain on Farmers

At the Mackay premiere of the Stop Adani documentary, A Mighty Force, local cane grower Michelle Ready explained to locals why she is so passionate about stopping Adani's mega-mine. 

40352347491_b6fbd6cec4_o_(2).jpg

My name’s Michelle and I’m a farmer’s wife.  I’m not an expert by any means, but I’ve taken time to do the research and have spoken with many, better informed people, including farmers who are at the coal face, so to speak.  The farm we’re on has been in my husband’s family around 60 years, and we wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for the groundwater.  It provides all our domestic needs.  On the farming side however, we’re lucky to have limited access to the creek, when the rains fail to come.

But there are farmers who aren’t as lucky as us, whose only reliable source is groundwater from the Galilee Basin, part of the Great Artesian Basin.  Out there, at the Carmichael mine site, groundwater is everything, and it absolutely defies belief that our elected officials have decided to give it away, free and unlimited amounts of it, to a company with the most atrocious history of environmental degradation.

Coal mines require enormous amounts of water.  I remember years ago hearing that wars would be fought over water, and I thought at the time, “no way there’s so much water, what’s the problem”.  I was wrong.  Farmers are the first to feel the effects of drought, and climate change, yet eventually everyone will.  Look at Cape Town. Broken Hill.

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