Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch. (Photo AAP/Megan Slade)
Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch. (Photo AAP/Megan Slade)

State Government responds to explosive coal report

AN explosive report by The Australian has uncovered a chain of internal Queensland Government emails labelled "a plan that could forever change Queensland's economy."

The emails uncovered supposed planned environmental hurdles for new projects, especially mining.

However, before the report, there was no public knowledge of the plan.

The report uncovered the State Government commissioned Australia's top environmental lawyers asking them to "explore the issue of climate risk litigation'' as part of its "Advancing Queensland Priority Action: Protecting the Great Barrier Reef'' policy.

This coincided with the controversial black-throated finch management plan and groundwater dependent ecosystem management plan approvals for the Adani Carmichael mine.

The report was built on emails sourced through Freedom of Information laws requesting internal emails canvassing the Adani project by Tim Seelig - appointed as the Department of Environment and Science's top policy adviser last year.

The Black Throated Finch
The Black Throated Finch

What was found was the presence of "the proposal for Queensland."

The Australian's report stated the Queensland Government would not answer questions surrounding the emails, nor would they release and attachment to one of the emails, citing the contents are "commercial in confidence''.

The report said the proposal's importance was "confirmed by the timing of its delivery to ­ departmental heads" and in an ­accompanying email in which the proposal's author, lawyer Sarah Barker, raised the prospect of "overseas scope 3 emissions" being linked to future approvals for projects like Adani.

The article stated, "The possibility of following suit and overhauling Queensland environmental law to consider overseas emissions from a proposed mine's products was flagged in emails between Ms Barker and senior bureaucrats within the ­ Environment Department."

A spokeswoman for the department head and Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch did not respond to The Australian's questioning or requests for the proposal document.

A spokeswoman did however respond to The Morning Bulletin's follow-up request.

She said the document was a proposal for legal work submitted to government by a law firm, hence why it was commercial-in-confidence.

"The proposal has not been accepted by the government. It has not been considered by Cabinet," she said.

"There are no plans to end coal mining in Queensland."

Minister Enoch's office said under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 'Annex I countries', including Australia, "are responsible for reporting their greenhouse gas emissions."

"The Queensland Government is not considering a change to this," the spokeswoman said.

Brittany Lauga Keppel MP. (AAP Image/Jono Searle)
Brittany Lauga Keppel MP. (AAP Image/Jono Searle)

Keppel MP Brittany Lauga spoke out in defence of her government's support of the coal sector.

"4,200 extra jobs have been created in the coal industry since Annastacia Palaszczuk became Premier," she said.

"And we're supporting new coal projects like Olive Downs near Moranbah which is supporting another 1500 jobs."