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Parties That Are Meant To Protect Farmers Are Failing Us When It Comes To Adani

They're talking through their hats, even if they are Akubras.

24/11/2017 10:16 AM AEDT | Updated 24/11/2017 10:16 AM AEDT
David Gray / Reuters
August 13, 2017: Farmer Tony Jackson looks at the remaining water in the Thomson River on his property located on the outskirts of the Queensland outback.

The parties that are supposed to represent farmers are failing us when it comes to Adani. The Nationals in the LNP and the Katter Australia Party like to talk about representing farmers, but they're talking through their hats, even if they are Akubras.

When it comes down to it, the LNP and KAP are putting an Indian mining billionaire ahead of family farming businesses in Central Queensland.

The LNP is the only party that is still prepared to let the Federal Government hand over $1 billion of taxpayer money to the Indian mining giant to subsidise the construction of its railway. KAP on the other hand wants the taxpayer to fund the whole railway, which would cost more than $1 billion.

Imagine what we could do with that $1 billion if it was invested in agricultural infrastructure that directly benefited primary producers.

We know agriculture is here to stay for the long-term, our food security relies on it, but the same can't be said for coal mining. While coal mining is part of Queensland's history, it's becoming clear that it won't be part of our future, at least not to the extent it has been in the past.

The world is moving to renewable energy and globally more and more coal mines are closing down, leaving profoundly negative impacts on agriculture and the environment more broadly in their wake.

Instead of allowing a $1 billion subsidy for Adani, the LNP and KAP should be focusing on what agriculture needs to sustain production, add value to its products and tap into international markets.

If we protect our farmland and groundwater, it will keep creating jobs and feeding Australians in perpetuity. Handing over $1 billion to enable Adani to waste billions of litres of groundwater and permanently scar vast areas of the landscape is short-term politics at its worst.

Once mining is completed, Adani plans to leave six huge pit voids and mountains of waste rock that will permanently degrade the landscape. The waste rock dumps would cover a massive 8,300 hectares and contain acid-producing mine waste. Adani is not prepared to give assurances that any of these areas will be able to sustain cattle grazing after mining.

The pit voids would cover an additional 3,300 hectares, including high walls hundreds of metres deep. These huge voids will not be rehabilitated and will remain in perpetuity, permanently draining millions of litres of precious groundwater from surrounding aquifers.

On top of this, the mine would divert 88 km of creeks which will not be reinstated. The government is also giving Adani free, unlimited water use and they're extending the free water deal to mines across the state.

The special treatment enjoyed by coal mining companies has gone way too far. Once the miners leave, farmers and local communities bear the brunt of the impacts to their land, water, and even to their health.

But the politicians who claim to represent farmers are throwing their lot in with big overseas mining companies, like Adani, instead of the agricultural businesses which could support regional Queensland communities now and into the future.

Adani are already getting free unlimited water and permission not to fully rehabilitate their giant mine. Are politicians seriously going to give them a $1 billion plus handout on top of that?

Instead of allowing a $1 billion subsidy for Adani, the LNP and KAP should be focusing on what agriculture needs to sustain production, add value to its products and tap into international markets.

By directing government support in this direction, the LNP and KAP will be supporting rural and regional communities to become more resilient -- instead of supporting an industry that extracts the wealth from rural communities and transfers it into the pockets of shareholders that won't have to suffer the long-term consequences of mining.

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