Central Queensland: the new Saudi Arabia of fossil fuel development?

Coal mining in central Queensland is rapidly expanding

It seems Central Queensland is rapidly being pushed towards becoming the new Saudi Arabia of Australia, with a plethora of coal, gas and oil projects in the pipeline. With breathtaking incongruity, Queensland is set to double its coal exports within the next decade, at the same time that we are challenged to take climate change seriously. There was an excellent article by Guy Pearse on this topic in this month’s Monthly Magazine (). The proposed ‘opening up’ of the Galilee Basin west of Emerald will result in at least 30 billion tonnes of CO2-e being released into the atmosphere over the next several decades. This makes absolute mockery of all our individual efforts to turn off the lights, and spells disaster for the millions of people around the world that will bear the brunt of rising sea levels and extreme weather events. We cannot rest peacefully while our elected governments further entrench our dependence on coal mining royalties and contribute to the endangering of the future of the planet as we know it. In March (2010), Hancock Coal lodged its application for their proposed 495km rail to be granted ‘Infrastructure Facility of Significance’. The granting of this new status will pave the way for the government to ‘compulsorily acquire land (or easements) and native title for the Facility should voluntary negotiations be unsuccessful’. In the words of Paul Maulder, Hancock’s Managing Director: The rail line is a linchpin in the development of the Galilee Coal Basin. Without this rail corridor and track, the Galilee Basin will not be able to develop to its full potential as a future economic powerhouse for the State of Queensland. (see http://hancockcoal.com.au/go/news/hancock-coal-ifs-application) Comments were sought from ‘person/s who may be affected by the new facility’. Undoubtedly, the ‘person/s affected’ include the landholders directly in line of the rail development, who stand to lose rights to their land. What is less likely to register in the minds of the people developing and approving this proposed rail line is the fact that the rail is the thin edge of the wedge that will unleash a til-now-unexploited coal basin on the world. Is this really what the world needs and wants?

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