Clermont celebrates: ‘We’re ready to dig in’
THE little town that played a huge role in the federal election result was awash with optimism this week as Adani's Carmichael coal mine received final approval, and a decade-old dream began transforming into reality.
Roger Vine, who owns the Commercial Hotel at the top of Clermont's Capella St played a central role in the "pro-Adani movement" which emerged out of the Queensland regions in April, taking the fight up to the anti-coal, green convoy led by Bob Brown.
But Mr Vine refuses to take any credit for Prime Minister Scott Morrison's Coalition win or even events in the post election wash-up, including Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's order to her Co-ordinator-General to expedite the Adani approvals process.
Mr Vine, instead, defers to Mr Brown.
"Bob Brown has done more to unite this community than anyone I have ever known in my life,'' he declared, inviting the former Greens Senator to perform an encore.
"Come back for the state election if you want Bob, you're more than welcome.''
Mr Vine and colleagues including Grand Hotel publican Kel Appleton stepped up to the plate in April.
As Mr Brown's green convoy wound its way towards central and north Queensland, gathering strong social media and mainstream attention, Mr Vine and Mr Appleton fronted up for media interviews and arranged picture opportunities, helping generate publicity for the counter protest which swept across the central west.
The pro-Adani protest unquestionably played a critical role in the outcome of the federal election and culminated in a massive protest in late April as Mr Vine's hotel was festooned with anti-Greens signs, and locals took to the streets to loudly protest the arrival of the convoy.
Mr Vine, a canny businessman who owns with wife Maree both the Commercial Hotel and Clermont Country Motor Inn in the centre of town, has a realistic expectation of the mine's economic benefits. He expects a "slow burn'' over the next 12 months as construction begins bringing direct jobs as well as new avenues for small business to exploit, from vehicle maintenance to transport logistics to accommodation and food.
To Clermont's youth, Adani represents not so much a new chapter as an assurance that a way of life which has been part of central Queensland for decades continues.
Dean Marshall, 24, and Lani Jago, 20, already work at nearby Blair Athol Mine but welcome the new opportunities Adani represents for other young central Queenslanders.
Gold, especially around nearby Theresa Creek, drew early settlers to the area while grain and livestock held up the economy in the first part of the 20th Century. But mining remains essential to the survival of many communities in the area not limited to Clermont.
Lani, who grew up on a cattle and grain property just outside town and works part-time in administration at Blair Athol, says mining is just part of Clermont life. "Dad who grew up here always says mining was important,'' she said.
Dean is a third-generation miner from Blackall whose grandfather made his living mining coal, and whose family are all involved at the Blair Athol operation. "I love the work, it's always interesting,'' he said.