Farmers rejoice over new strategy
IT is an historic, Australian first – Central Highlands farmers that fall within the government’s protected strategic cropping land areas released in the policy framework this week will be sheltered from the exploding resources boom.
For many landholders in the Central Highlands food bowl, it is hope following a two-year fight that filled their lives with fear and uncertainty.
“We’re absolutely thrilled,” Jackie Wells of the Golden Triangle, south of Emerald, said.
“We couldn’t be happier. We have a future and we can finally sleep well.
“Somebody actually listened. This is welcome news and we all have a big thank you to Kate Jones.”
Since August, 2009, Jackie has fought to keep mining operations off her and her neighbour’s land in the Golden Triangle. She sent hundreds of letters to ministers, organised meetings, brought the community together and took on the mining giants to finally receive the news she thought would never come yesterday.
And the announcement to protect her land could not have come at a better time, with two mining companies eyeing off her land for possible future operations, which she now declares “will be stopped in their tracks”.
One of those is Bandana Energy’s proposed open-cut coal mine, which at this stage has not released an Environmental Impact Statement, meaning it should have to comply with the full extent of the Strategic Cropping Land Policy.
“The way I understand it, this means both should go away,” Jackie said.
“I’m sure the mining companies are not going to lie down in their tracks, there will be an outcry, but as they have told us many times before when they are trying to take our land, business is business. That is our response now.”
Jackie said a huge thank you was also owed to Jim Pearce, who got involved with their cause in November, 2009, and acted as an advisor.
“It has been a long process, and it consumed us, it impacted on our everyday life and we were forced to ask ourselves if we were going to have a future in five years time,” Jackie said.
“But there is going to be one big party now!”