'We've copped it': Business owner to Mines Minister
4PM: Oakey's Chamber of Commerce president has made an impassioned plea for Mines Minister Anthony Lynham to approve the New Acland Coal Mine expansion at a special luncheon this afternoon.
After being handed the microphone during a Q and A session with the man who will decide the fate of the mine, business owner Andrew Langton said Oakey had suffered enough in the years following the battle over New Acland and the water contamination crisis.
"It's important for jobs to rule for the majority and not the minority," he said.
"We have copped it left, right and centre.
"We're a town that's meant to be booming and we've got the infrastructure to host anything.
"I just feel that we need to be heard."
Mr Langton received a resounding applause from the large crowd at the Empire Theatre following his speech.
Dr Lynham did not respond to the comments, but told the crowd he would seek an extension on the decision-making period.
"The recommendation is lengthy, complex and I want a full and expert briefing until I make any decision on this mine," he said.
"We know that the mining expansion is an issue that all parties feel strongly about.
"That's why I've asked the Chief Executive of the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to extend this decision on the Environment Authority until I have had time to fully consider the Land Court's recommendation."
12PM: Dozens of people have protested in Toowoomba today both for and against a controversial proposal to expand a coal mine near Oakey.
New Hope Group is seeking approval for a $896 million expansion at its New Acland Mine.
The Land Court in May recommended the expansion be rejected but the decision ultimately lies with Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham.
He is the guest speaker at a Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise function today and groups on both sides of the debate protested outside the Empire Theatres complex in Neil St.
Paul King, speaking on behalf of anti-mine group Oakey Coal Action Alliance, said members were there to celebrate the legal victory.
He called for Dr Lynham to make what he called "the right call" regarding the mine.
Melissa Flynn from Oakey RSL spoke on behalf of about 30 business owners from Oakey who attended in support of the expansion.
She said Dr Lynham needed to consider the facts and "get the truth out".
Ms Flynn said the mine was worth $2500 each week to her business.
"We need it to stay open, I've had friends who have been miners there for 10 years."
The two groups remained civil and police were not in attendance.
EARLIER: Protesters and supporters of the New Acland coal mine expansion will prepare to crash Mines Minister Anthony Lynham's appearance in Toowoomba this morning.
Dr Lynham, who has asked for more time to make a decision on whether to approve or reject Stage 3 of the mine, will be the guest speaker at Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise's latest Political Leaders Series luncheon at the Empire Theatre about noon.
Oakey business owners and residents are expected to march in support of the mine, while the Oakey Coal Action Alliance is also expected to make an appearance.
In an announcement yesterday, the Friends of New Acland Coal said more than 2000 people supported the continuation of the mine.
"Almost 2000 local residents, business owners and community members have signed a petition in support of the New Acland coal mine being approved," the release said.
"Many new businesses have setup in the local area because of the New Acland mine - these businesses will leave our community if this mine is not approved.
The future of the massive coal project is still in doubt after the Queensland Land Court recommended New Hope's mining lease applications be rejected by Dr Lynham.