Miner accuses premier of double standards


Annastacia Palaszczuk has been accused of staggering double standards for celebrating the approval of a central Queensland coal mine while another project languishes, despite both being before the courts.

Proponents for the New Acland Stage Three coal mine were left gobsmacked when the Premier on Tuesday announced final approvals for the $1 billion Olive Downs mine and celebrated the 1000 jobs it will create.

The Palaszczuk Government has continually refused to give certainty around New Acland - a thermal coal mine near Toowoomba that will secure 600 jobs - because it is still before the courts.

However The Courier-Mail can reveal landowner Sunland Cattle Co has asked a Supreme Court judge to review a decision by Land Court President Fleur Kingham, who recommended various mining lease applications be granted for the Olive Downs project in July.

New Hope COO Andrew Boyd addresses media in relation to New Acland stage three. Picture: Kevin Farmer
New Hope COO Andrew Boyd addresses media in relation to New Acland stage three. Picture: Kevin Farmer

Sunland made the request on a number of grounds, including claiming the President did not observe the necessary procedures when making the recommendation.

New Acland has already become an election issue, with the CFMEU mining and energy division urging punters to vote against Labor in Toowoomba North because the project hasn't been approved.

New Hope Group chief operating officer Andrew Boyd said while they were pleased to see resource projects being approved, he questioned the "double standards" of the Government.

"The Premier has said ad nauseam that New Acland Stage 3 will not be approved while there is court action pending," he said.

"Why then has the Premier given this project the green light when it is currently in the Supreme Court subject to judicial review?

"We just want to know why we are being held to a different standard to other projects across the state."

The Premier, who made the announcement with Treasurer Cameron Dick and Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert, said she knew how important regional jobs were yesterday.

Asked how the Government could proceed with Olive Downs while legal action was afoot, Ms Palaszczuk said there wasn't any.

Pressed further, the Premier said she wasn't aware of any legal action.

Asked why New Acland couldn't be approved, a government spokesman last night said, "Labor made a commitment to await the outcome of the court process. A hearing is expected next week."

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington. Photo: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
LNP Leader Deb Frecklington. Photo: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

LNP Leader Deb Frecklington claimed it was "rank hypocrisy" and "nothing more than a pre-election stunt".

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the Government could step in at any time to approve the mining lease and associated water licence for New Acland.

Pembroke Resources, which is developing Olive Downs, said being granted final approvals by the Government was not dependent or conditional on the conclusion of legal action.

"Sunland did apply to the Supreme Court for judicial review of the recommendation of President Fleur Kingham of the Land Court of Queensland," a statement read.

"However, at the first directions hearing, Sunland made no application for an order to stay the recommendation of President Kingham."

Originally published as Miner accuses premier of double standards