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News & Blog Posts · Energy & Climate

EDO Qld busts water bill myths

04 November, 2016

Some myth busting on Queensland's Environmental Protection (Underground Water Management) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 (EPOLA Bill) and the Water Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 (WLA Bill) before parliament votes.

There's a lot of fiction purporting to be fact which is circulating in the discussion about the Environmental Protection (Underground Water Management) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 (EPOLA Bill).

Here, we bust some of the myths!

FYI: EDO Qld supports passage of both Bills in at least their current form; these Bills are the bare minimum, our farmers and environment cannot afford for the Bills to be weakened in favour of mining. Our water resources are too precious to waste without proper scrutiny about the likely impacts to farmers and the ecologies dependent on them – we need these Bills to pass.

Myth 1. “We don’t need to examine groundwater any more, it’s been thoroughly assessed.”

Facts: That is wrong. In the Alpha case the Land Court Judgement in 2014 exposed grave uncertainties with groundwater modelling. Land Court member Smith recommended that the project be rejected unless there was further precautionary groundwater licensing assessment. So objectors like grazier Bruce Currie, who worked hard to demonstrate those uncertainties that need addressing, are rightfully expecting that licensing processes needs to occur.

In the Acland Stage 3 case the evidence has been heard in the Land Court. Four of five groundwater experts gave evidence that there were issues with the groundwater modelling that called into question its reliability and New Acland Coal conceded that its groundwater modelling did not, and was not even designed to, predict the extent of the impacts at the objectors’ properties. The many graziers and farmers who objected (EDO represented a group of 60) expect and need groundwater licensing as their businesses are dependent on groundwater – farmers like beef cattle stud farmer Frank Ashman.

Myth 2. “The EPOLA Bill will stop the mine”

Facts: No, it will require those mines already undergoing assessment to obtain an “associated water licence” which includes application, public submission and possibly appeal processes, as for the water licence these mines currently require. This process might lead to modified mining being allowed or improved conditions. It does not automatically stop anything.

Myth 3. “The EPOLA Bill will cause unfair delays with new requirements to get water licences.”

Facts: That is incorrect. For many years continually and up to today most mines have needed water licences to interfere with groundwater under the Water Act in Queensland. The EPOLA Bill just continues that requirement for transitional mines undergoing assessment, like Acland Stage 3, Alpha, Adani Carmichael. What has happened is that mining companies have gambled on the laws weakening and failed to put in their applications for water licences. The mining companies have  chosen to sit on their hands and are now trying to blame everyone but themselves. See Parliamentary Committee Report on page 5.

Myth 4. “Assessment of groundwater impacts of mines is bad for jobs”

Facts: If you take a longer-term view, protecting our agricultural industries and rural communities and our Great Barrier Reef maintains and grows long-term sustainable jobs.

Don’t forget the mining industry has constantly exaggerated jobs in the mining industry, e.g.

  • Adani said 10,000 jobs but only in Court did their own economist say the correct estimate was 1,464 net jobs as the mine would cause job losses in existing industries.
  • New Acland said 2,953 jobs but only in Court in April did their own economist say the correct estimate was 680 net jobs as the mine would cause job losses in existing industries.

Please, contact your local MP and support the need for these two Bills to be passed! Find out more here.

Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) gives a strong legal voice to the environment when needed most.

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