State challenged to save our crops

Member for Gregory, Vaughan Johnson.
Member for Gregory, Vaughan Johnson.

MEMBER for Gregory Vaughan Johnson has challenged the State Government to show its “sincerity” and commitment to protecting prime agricultural land in the Golden Triangle, south of Emerald, threatened by two proposed coal mines.

Mr Johnson said the government’s actions in relation to the environmental impact study of the Bandanna Energy open-cut and underground mines would expose its true position on mining versus farming.

“The area covered by Bandanna Energy’s two proposed mines is without doubt in the very, very, top rank of prime agricultural land. It would be among the best land in Australia,” Mr Johnson said.

“I have advocated tirelessly on this topic and asked a question in the parliament about it this week, because I fear the ALP will renege on commitments made to me and my constituents last year that the draft sustainable cropping land policy was firm, government policy and would, therefore, be applied to all upcoming approvals.

“This environmental approval process usually occurs hand in hand with the approval of a mining license, so I am very frightened as to what will now occur.

“Various vested interests have tried to portray this argument as being about competing land uses, or being anti-mining. It is neither. The issue is food security. Only 2-3% of Queensland’s vast land area is prime food-growing land.

“It would be very short-sighted to dig it up when this kind of land has never been rehabilitated to its primary use, anywhere in Australia. The best science says it can’t be done, for either open-cut or underground mining. And to date, with the best of attempts, it never has been.

“I am very supportive of the resource sector, because I have seen the progress and prosperity it has brought to the Bowen Basin.

“However, we should not be mining our food bowl out of existence. The land along the Comet River at Orion and Springsure Creek clearly qualifies for protection and it will be a sad day if the government fails to extend that protection.”

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