The scenario of people as far afield as Sydney and Melbourne being able to influence the job prospects of young central Queenslanders was one that concerned Gregory MP, Lachlan Millar, as he reviewed Monday’s anti-Adani petitions presented by graziers Angus Emmott and Will Graham.
Supported by Farmers for Climate Action, the cattle graziers distributed two petitions with a combined total of over 150,000 signatures to all 93 Queensland MPs, calling on them to protect central Queensland’s grazing land and water resources.
Angus, who lives on a property south west of Longreach, obtained over 110,000 signatures for his Change.org petition calling on the Premier to rescind the unlimited 60-year groundwater licence granted to the Adani Carmichael Project.
The mine is expected to draw 26 million litres of water per day from its pits, which over its life would total 355 billion litres of water.
Willows grazier, William Graham, launched a petition to oppose the compulsory acquisition of grazing land for the construction of a rail corridor to the Carmichael project and on Monday handed over his petition with 45,000 signatures.
In his petition, he said the nuisance factor for graziers who would have parts of their properties no longer belonging to them was enormous, as properties would be split apart, and access to water and facilities more difficult.
“These landholders no longer have any choice about whether or not to sell and the only thing they can do is negotiate a price with the Queensland government,” it said.
Angus and William describe their actions as sending a clear message to Parliament to stand up for farmers and graziers and to prioritise agriculture over the expansion of fossil fuel development.
“Australia’s future lies in clean energy, clean water and clean food, not in the bottomless pit of a thermal coal mine,” Angus said.
“Groundwater is the lifeblood of central and western Queensland, and agriculture is the backbone of our region.
“It’s time for all sides of politics to put the interests of farmers and graziers, and the long term sustainable future for regional Queensland ahead of the short term interests of mining companies.”
While Mr Millar said the Great Artesian Basin was sacrosanct and he’d never been comfortable with a mining company having unlimited access to water, he couldn’t agree with completely scrapping the Carmichael mine licence as per Angus’s request.
He believed all miners should have an allocation for water, based on sustainability and availability.
“We need stringent controls around water but we also need job opportunities,” he said. “We need to find the balance.”
He didn’t agree with Will’s call for the state government to stop compulsorily acquiring grazing land for Adani’s private rail line.
“Land acquisition has been going on since Federation – it’s going on in the south with the Inland Rail.
“It needs to be a transparent process, and there must be compensation that’s adequate and fair.”
Questioned on the pressure brought to bear by the petitions, Mr Millar said they would add weight if they’d all come from the central west.
“But, a lot of people living in Sydney and Melbourne, even New York, are making decisions on our lives.
“The anti-Adani campaign is a very strong lobby but we’ve got to have job opportunities for our children.”
The Premier’s department was contacted for comment but hadn’t responded.