The previous Queensland Government’s Systematic Removal of Legislative Safeguards
Exposes the Channel Country to Destructive Projects
The previous Queensland Government systematically dismantled key legislative protections for river systems, water resources and the public’s right to object to unsustainable development in order to fast track large-scale gas and mining developments.
The Channel Country is particularly exposed to this loss of regulatory and public oversight. This complex system of rivers, creeks, waterholes, wetlands and floodplains remains largely intact, is in relatively pristine condition and is globally significant.
Removal of Wild Rivers Protection:
The Channel Country was previously protected by the Wild Rivers Act which restricted development that adversely impacted riverine environments, waterholes, wetlands and floodplains.
The previous Queensland Government has removed all existing regulations such as those applying to mining, petroleum and gas operations in the Channel Country. It was replaced by a weakened legislative framework - the Regional Planning Interests Act.
The curtailment of long-standing third party objections rights to resouces developments:
Previously all Queenslanders had the right to object to proposed mining and energy projects and the right for their claims to be heard by the Land Court. The passing of the Minerals and Energy (Common Provisions) Bill by the previous Queensland Government, removed or severely curtailed many of those rights.
While the rights of immediately impacted landholders to object remain, the rights of third parties beyond immediate neighbours to object, has been removed. Queensland legislation is now strongly biased in favour of the mining and energy resources sector. It is neither fair, nor equitable nor just.
The granting of privileged water access rights to the resources sector:
In November 2014, the previous Queensland Government amended the Water Act and other Acts which reduced the protection of Queensland’s water resources and the rights of existing water users. For example;
- The requirement for mineral tenure holders to obtain a Water Act licence or permit for dewatering operations has been removed, granting the resources sector a “statutory right to take associated groundwater.”
- The Mineral Resources Act has been amended to extend a statutory right to take unlimited associated groundwater to the minerals sector.
- Removal of an affected landholder or a water user’s objection and appeal rights under the Water Act, to the unlimited take or interference with associated groundwater.
- Large volumes of unallocated water may be reserved outside a statutory Water Plan and in some cases prior to the completion of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and amendment of a Water Plan.
Reinstating People's Rights and sensible environment protection:
Local stakeholders including graziers, small business people, the indigenous community and tourism operators all strongly support either the reinstatement of either the Wild Rivers Act or the adoption of new statutory frameworks that;-
- Permanently protects the of river quantity, quality and variability of flows
- Ensures that watercourses, floodplains and wetlands are permanently protected from large-scale, incompatible and destructive activities,
- Enshrines the public’s, Local Government, landholder’s and the broader community’s rights to lodge objections to development approvals,
- Embeds a precautionary and ecologically sustainable approach to the management of the State's water resources,
- Guarantees that all water users in Queensland are afforded with equitable, consistent and secure access to the State’s surface and groundwater resources.