On Friday 20th December Greg Hunt, the Federal Minister for the Environment, announced his conditional approval for Clive Palmer’s proposed Galilee Coal Project (aka China First). Despite the decision being dated 19th December, it was not announced on the department’s website until 6pm the following day, the Friday before Christmas. There was also not the usual accompanying Ministerial press release. Was the Federal Government worried the news getting critical attention from journalists?
In making this decision the Federal Government has joined with the Queensland State Government in giving the green light for the destruction of Bimblebox Nature Refuge. This is despite the Bimblebox landholders having entered binding conservation agreements with both levels of government more than ten years ago. If this mine goes ahead, it would represent the most significant impact experienced on a nature refuge to date.
Minister Hunt’s decision comes as little surprise. Countless letters and submissions have been written in an effort to engage with the formal processes of assessment and decision making. But this result shows decisively that Australian governments would rather court coal interests than respect agreements signed with committed landholders to protect Australia’s precious biodiversity into the future.
Incredulously, this approval comes at the same time that Waratah Coal is facing an Environmental Protection Order for failing to rehabilitate their exploration bore holes. It suggests the company has a blatant disregard for the law that protects landholders and the environment, and we shudder to think what their standards will be like should the mine go ahead. Also, the fact that the government will need the Palmer United Party’s senate votes to pass future legislation, including the repeal of the carbon tax next year, raises serious questions as to the integrity of this decision.
To make matters worse, the Abbot Government together with Labor passed a law in mid-December that will make it difficult for this decision to be challenged in the Federal Court. A further blow came on Wednesday, 18th December, when Federal funding for the Environmental Defender’s Office was suddenly withdrawn. The playing field is that much more uneven now, with well-resourced companies (and self- proclaimed billionaires in the case of Clive Palmer) able to throw their ample funds into legal cases against landholders who have next to nothing. Is this how we want Australia to be?
But the fight to stop the Galilee Coal Project is far from over. Nature Refuge owners, local landholders, city based professionals and students, climate change campaigners and our small dedicated team of volunteers will not sit idle while coal mining is privileged over people and the environment.
What you can do now:
- Help us show our outrage at this decision by sharing these images on social media (you can even use them for your profile picture!)
- Consider a New Year’s resolution of supporting the campaign to stop destructive mining in the Galilee Basin. There are hundreds of ways you can contribute, but only you know your own skills and capacity. Please get in touch.
- Investors the world over are recognising the financial prudence and need to withdraw support from fossil fuel investments. We urge all of our supporters to join with groups such as Market Forces and 350.org to ensure your savings are not helping support this and other mines!