New Hope furious over mining approvals ‘double standards’
On Tuesday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the Pembroke Olive Downs coal mine, a $1 billion project near Mackay, had received all its approvals.
But when queried by a journalist who pointed to the ongoing judicial review of the project’s land court decision, the Premier said “there was no legal action” and that “Olive Downs is good to go”.
When pressed on the matter of the judicial review, Ms Palaszczuk said “well I’m not aware of that”.
Yesterday when asked at another press conference about the approvals for Olive Downs, Ms Palaszczuk claimed to have “addressed that yesterday in detail”.
She went on to say it was her understanding the High Court was due to decide on the Acland expansion next week.
“We’ve always said we would abide by the court decision. That will come down next week and whichever way that will fall, that will fall,” she said.
She rejected the idea the two approaches to the different projects were a double standard.
“The court case is coming down next week. People do not have long to wait, less than a week,” she said, before moving onto other questions.
Writing to the Premier on Tuesday, New Hope Group CEO Reinhold Schmidt said his company “noted with interest” the announcement of approvals of the Olive Downs project.
“While we are always pleased to see resource projects get approvals we are somewhat disappointed at the apparent double standards being applied to the process,” he said.
“You have said, on many occasions, that the New Acland Stage 3 Project cannot be approved while there are legal matters unresolved.
“Why then have you approved Olive Downs when we know they are facing a Judicial Review of the Land Court recommendation?
“Our workforce and the communities around Oakey have been waiting 13 years for the approvals of Stage 3 and will be justifiably infuriated when they learn this government has one rule for Central Queensland and another for the Downs.”
New Acland Coal Mine general manager Dave O’Dwyer said the Premier’s comments about the High Court were incorrect.
“We are in the High Court next week but a decision will not necessarily be made next week – it could take months,” he said.
“The workforce out here is just disgusted in what we clearly see as a double standard.”
Mr O’Dwyer said the State Government had now issued approvals for both Adani and Olive Downs despite ongoing legal action.
“We just ask to be treated the same,” he said.
New Acland will progressively ramp down operations until the mine runs out of coal mid next year, if it does not secure Stage 3 approvals.