New Acland jobs at risk after water legislation passes
THE future of the New Acland mine is in doubt after new water licencing laws passed Queensland Parliament on Wednesday night, putting the 700 jobs in jeopardy.
New laws re-instating water licences for mines passed parliament with the Katter's Australian Party MPs and two independents voting with the government. The Opposition voted against the laws.
The applications can be challenged in court.
New Acland coal mine owner New Hope had called to be exempted from laws as their application was so advanced.
At a rally outside Queensland Parliament last week New Hope chief operating officer Andrew Boyd said the company was not opposed to the laws but wanted to avoid future court challenges to the mine. He said without the expansion New Acland would begin to run out of coal and be forced to shed jobs.
The government did amend their legislation to allow for some advanced mines more leeway. The changes meant a mine that had a completed environmental impact study and a land court decision in its favour would be exempt from having to apply for an interim water licence.
Although the Adani Carmichael mine meets the criteria the third stage of New Acland does not.
Shadow Mines Minister Andrew Cripps moved amendments that would have also made New Acland exempt but they were voted down.
Environment Minister Steven Miles said the laws would protect Queensland groundwater. He questioned why the LNP was favouring one project over others.
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"The LNP again stood up in Parliament and attempted to deregulate groundwater in Queensland," he said.
"They moved amendments which would have exempted specific projects chosen by the LNP from having to apply for and qualify for a water licence. How did they select those projects, and what undertakings did they make to those companies?"
But Opposition Deputy Leader Deb Frecklington said the bill would cost jobs.
"Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to explain to the employees of the Acland mine and their families - as well as the businesses who have relied on this mine - why their livelihoods aren't worth saving from this job-destroying legislation," she said.
"These laws will plunge the Acland mine into another round of unnecessary environmental assessments, despite it having already satisfied both state and federal environmental laws."
The government also came under fire for their exemption of the Carmichael mine.
Federal Greens Senator Larissa Waters said the government was not fulfilling its promises to voters.
"Queensland Labor were elected to 'save the Reef' but instead they've caved in to big coal creating loopholes to put Adani's Reef-destroying mega-mine on the fast track," she said.
The $896 million stage 3 project will see the existing New Acland open-cut coal mine expand production to up to 7.5 Mtpa.
New Hope Group says it will provide jobs for more than 700 people.