Farmers for Climate Action Queensland Coordinator Michael Kane and Rockhampton Beef Producer Mick Alexander oppose a rail line in the Galilee Basin.
Farmers for Climate Action Queensland Coordinator Michael Kane and Rockhampton Beef Producer Mick Alexander oppose a rail line in the Galilee Basin. Contributed

Mixed feelings over constructing a Galilee Basin rail line

WITH the collapse of Aurizon's bid for NAIF funding, the issue of constructing a rail line servicing the Galilee Basin continues to divide people.

Aurizon's decision to withdraw its funding application to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) for its Galilee Basin rail line after failing to reach agreement on contracts with any mine proponents, including Adani, drew a mixed reaction.

On one hand, a group of graziers and farmers called Farmers for Climate Action were glad the rail line wasn't progressing, while on the other hand, One Nation's leader Senator Pauline Hanson was pushing hard for a government intervention.

Farmers for Climate Action's stated aim was to "push for immediate action on climate change by supporting on-farm adaptation and mitigation to ensure a positive future for generations of Australian farmers".

Farmers for Climate Action Queensland Coordinator, Michael Kane was heartened by the setback to the rail line saying graziers across central Queensland had been put through the wringer over this project.


Australian farmers for climate action
Farmers for Climate Action Queensland Coordinator Michael Kane welcomed Aurizon's withdrawal from their application for a NAIF loan. Contributed

"They've had their groundwater, the lifeblood of central Queensland threatened and they've had their properties cut in half with the compulsory acquisition of the rail corridor," Mr Kane said.

"Enough is enough. This mine doesn't stack up environmentally, economically or socially and it's clear that there's no public or private investor appetite for funding the project.

"This is another nail in the coffin for the Carmichael project."

Cattle producer Mick Alexander, who runs an organic beef property west of Rockhampton, called on the government to get a plan for resources in Central Queensland.

He said the social and environmental impacts of projects like Adani were completely unmanaged in Queensland.


Stop Adani protesters outside Julieanne Gilbert's office on Sydney St.
Stop Adani protesters outside Julieanne Gilbert's office on Sydney St. Tony Martin

"We have come to a point where we need a complete overhaul of the way regional Queensland is administered to protect the viable industries that we already have," Mr Alexander said.

"Queensland needs an overarching plan to manage incompatible industries like agriculture and coal mining. These endless mega mine announcements are damaging the viability of the sustainable industries that the regions depends on."

Central Queensland grazier William Graham launched a petition in October last year to stop the compulsory acquisition of grazing land for Adani's rail line which currently has 44,000 signatures.

"As a grazier I care deeply about our land, water and our rural communities," Mr Graham said.

"The Adani mine and further expansion of coal mining in the Galilee Basin threatens all of this.

"We know that agriculture is the backbone of rural Australia and we know that NAIF funds would be better spent on the development of critical infrastructure for agriculture across the north."


Anti-Adani activists halt a coal train near Bowen.
Anti-Adani activists halt a coal train near Bowen. Front Line Action on Coal

Mr Graham said Graziers were on the front line of climate change and at the coal face of mining development in Queensland.

"It's time for all levels of Government to prioritise farmers over the interests of mining giants," he said.

"The Carmichael mine is not in the long term interests of Queensland. It may have created jobs for a few years, but these jobs would disappear if the mine became fully automated.

"The damage to the environment, water and farmland outweigh the benefits. Thank goodness Aurizon perceive Adani as a risk to do business with."

Senator Hanson's position was in stark contrast to the Farmers for Climate Action.


One Nation Leader Senator Pauline Hanson at a press conference after visiting a lighting factory in Salisbury, south of Brisbane, Thursday, November 23, 2017. Senator Hanson is on the campaign trail ahead of the Queensland state election. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
BACKING COAL: One Nation Leader Senator Pauline Hanson is pushing hard for a rail line to be built servicing the Galilee Basin. MICK TSIKAS

She meet with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week to discuss the idea of the government building and owning a Galilee Basin railway line (as a part of Australia's national infrastructure strategy) to cash in on $600 million and $1.2 billion each year from Adani and other coal mines within the Galilee Basin who needed haulage access to Abbott Point port.

"Without it, mining in Central Queensland will be stifled and jobs will be lost," Senator Hanson said.

With over 1600 coal plants planned or under construction in 62 countries, Senator Hanson said Australia would play an instrumental role powering the globe and bringing third world nations out of darkness.

"Australia and more importantly Central Queensland is one of the few places in the world that can meet the demand for clean, quality coal blends for these new coal fired power plants," she said.

"It's imperative we're ready for the demand and the Prime Minister must act sooner rather than later on funding the rail line."