Preventing court challenges of mines 'irrational': Lynham
QUEENSLAND'S Mines Minister has defended new water licensing laws in front of the state's top mining executives.
The Queensland Parliament passed legislation last week requiring mines to apply for water licences when they apply for environmental approval. Community and environmental groups will be able to challenge these licences in the courts.
Advanced mine applications that already have an environmental impact statement and a decision in their favour from the Land Court will be exempted. This means Adani's Carmichael mine in central Queensland will not have to apply for a licence but the New Acland expansion outside of Toowoomba will.
New Acland owner New Hope claim if their water licence is challenged in court their existing operations may run out of coal - putting jobs at risk.
Speaking at the annual Queensland Resources Council State of the Sector lunch in Brisbane, Anthony Lynham said public scrutiny was a requirement of democracy.
"We believe that all members of the community should have a right to have their say about a proposed mining development," Dr Lynham said.
"Stifling objection rights is the policy of the irrational. If you want to see objection, then stifling rights is the one iron-clad method to achieve it.
"However, I do have concerns that cases have gone on for far too long."
Dr Lynham said he understood the change "may be difficult" for some operations. Dozens of mining executives, including ones from New Hope, were at the lunch.
Speaking to media after the lunch new QRC chief Ian Macfarlane said land court challenges were an important part of the approval process but activists had "corrupted" it.
"What we need to see is a fair process that allows people to object but ensures the environmental activists who have corrupted that process are not given an opportunity to slow down that process," he said.
Mr Macfarlane is the former federal mines minister and in a speech to the lunch he praised Dr Lynham's commitment to the mining sector.
Anti-mining activists protested the event, claiming Mr Macfarlane's appointment to the role was in breach of rules about former ministers working for lobbyists.
"Well I don't take legal advice from people in rat suits, and I certainly don't believe there's any conflict with the code of practice. In fact I have checked and I am totally compliant with the code of conduct for ex-ministers," Mr Macfarlane said.
He said he had checked with the Prime Minister's office whether the role with the QRC was in breach of the code of conduct before accepting it.