From Hansard of Qld Parliament November 2013..
Ms TRAD (South Brisbane—ALP) (8.28 pm): I rise to contribute to the debate on the North Stradbroke Island Protection and Sustainability and Another Act Amendment Bill 2013. From the outset, I will put the position of the Labor opposition, which is that we will be voting against this legislation.
Government members interjected.
Ms TRAD: It does appear that people are a little bit frisky tonight. Maybe there was not enough food down at the members’ dining room.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Watts): Order, members! I remind the member for South Brisbane to address the bill.
Ms TRAD: I will, as soon as my esteemed colleagues can contain themselves. As I said, the Labor opposition will be opposing the North Stradbroke Island Protection and Sustainability and Another Act Amendment Bill. Again, this bill’s title is a complete misnomer. Really it should read the ‘Sibelco continuation of sandmining on Stradbroke Island bill 2013’. From the outset, the justifications provided for this bill are shambolic and one-sided and are all about delivering on an election promise in return for political support, rather than on delivering on any genuine democratic process. Queenslanders should be extremely concerned at the morally dubious precedent that this legislative process sets for the Newman government. The Newman government has effectively sold off one of Queensland’s greatest tourism assets and the world’s second largest sand island in a morally noxious political deal. The maps of mining areas, the length of lease extensions, the environmental conditions and the economic modelling used to justify the introduction of this bill have all been provided by the mining proponent, Sibelco, which contributed more than $90,000 in the Ashgrove campaign at the 2012 state election advocating support for Campbell Newman and the LNP.
Mr RICKUSS: I rise to a point of order.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: What is your point of order, member for Lockyer?
Mr RICKUSS: The member is misleading the House. It was a third-party campaign. It was not in the Ashgrove campaign.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you for your comment, member for Lockyer.
Ms TRAD: I will re-read my comments.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Just hold for a moment. There is no point of order.
Ms TRAD: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker.
A government member interjected.
Ms TRAD: Let us have a look; we will see about that. I will say it again, just because they obviously enjoyed it so much the first time: the maps of mining areas, the length of lease extensions, the environmental conditions and the economic modelling used to justify the introduction of this bill have all been provided by the mining proponent, Sibelco, which incidentally spent more than $90,000 at the last state election advocating a vote for Campbell Newman and the LNP in Ashgrove. Now they stand to make a significant financial gain from this legislation: $1.5 billion by their own reckoning. By anyone’s measure, $90,000 for $1.5 billion is a reasonable neat and tidy deal.
The Premier has been trying to con Queenslanders into believing that he is simply delivering on an election promise and that he has a mandate to do so. This is simply untrue. At no point prior to the 2012 election did the Premier talk about extending mining leases on North Stradbroke Island for another 22 years until 2035. At no time before the election—
Mr Stevens: He got elected through it.
Ms TRAD: I take that interjection from the Leader of Government Business. He did get elected because of it. He got elected because he did not divulge in his seat of Ashgrove that he was adding another 22 years to the mining lease on North Stradbroke Island at the behest of Sibelco after one or maybe two private meetings with the COE. He cannot remember what was discussed. He could not recall. It sort of all happened and then Sibelco spent $92,000 in Ashgrove and—wow—all of a sudden we have an amendment and we have an extension to the mining lease for 22 years. I will let Ashgrove voters come to their own conclusions at the next state election, and that I guarantee you.
Out of the 122 publicly available submissions to the committee, three-quarters or 92 submissions oppose the bill in its current form.
A government member interjected.
Ms TRAD: I will take the interjection from one of the nameless LNP members on the backbench. I agree there were some form electronic submissions, in the same way that there were more than 100 electronic pro-tree clearing submissions during the Vegetation Management Framework Amendment Bill after the Premier went to an AgForce meeting in Gladstone and said, ‘Look, I’m delivering this for you, but I really need you to ramp up the campaign in South-East Queensland. That’s where we need to keep seats. You need to be campaigning in South-East Queensland if you want these laws.’
Government members interjected.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, members! I remind the member for South Brisbane to stay relevant to the current bill.
Ms TRAD: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I did accept that interjection about the electronic form submissions. As I said, out of the 122 publicly available submissions to the committee, three-quarters or 92 submissions opposed the bill in its current form. Despite the tight timeframe around consultation on the bill, many people took the time to read it, to understand what was happening and to voice their opposition to what is clearly a very bad move by this government. It is clear that there are many in the community, including island residents, who are opposed to the extension of sandmining on the world’s second largest sand island. However, it appears that if you disagree with this government, albeit for valid economic and scientific reasons, your views are simply ignored.
Mr Davies: Fifty-eight per cent.
Ms TRAD: I hear ‘58 per cent’ from the member for Capalaba. I am not actually sure what that means, but I am sure if he would like to make a contribution on the bill there might be room for his three-minute contribution somewhere down the line. Let us go to the so-called economic analysis underpinning the bill. The primary justification provided by this government of a need for an economic transition period of 22 years for the mining workforce is simply not believable. For the Newman government to claim that 22 years is needed for the transition of up to 130 mining jobs after sacking around 20,000 government workers in two years with no economic transition plan is beyond belief.
Government members interjected.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, members! The member for South Brisbane has the call.
Ms TRAD: Because Labor is all about jobs, I will repeat that: for the Newman government to claim that 22 years is needed for the transition of up to 130 mining jobs after sacking around 20,000 government workers in a matter of months with no economic transition plan is just hypocritical. It is just unbelievable. Under the Newman government the sacking of 20,000 workers has resulted in unemployment peaking higher than it ever reached during the GFC and has created a new legacy of long-term unemployment. This is a government that has also introduced a multi-billion dollar hike last year as coal prices were falling—absolutely geniuses. They hiked up royalties as coal prices were tumbling. Since then, more than 8,000 mining jobs have been lost. However, there was no consideration provided to those workers when the LNP hiked up royalties.
The so-called economic modelling in this legislation is neither independent nor valid. The economic model and data underpinning the reasons for introducing this legislation were provided to the government by the mining proponent Sibelco. The state development department then relied on Sibelco’s data in its report other than some census data on the island’s current population and workforce composition. This is detailed at page 9 of their so called independent economic analysis where it states that ‘data for this analysis has been supplied by Sibelco, the mine owner and operator.’
Independent think tank economists at large have pointed out that the input-output economic model provided by Sibelco and taken unquestionably as fact by the government is not preferred by the state development department. As the state development department sets out in their 2011 project assurance framework, the primary method of economic evaluation of public sector policies and projects is a cost benefit analysis. Input-output methodology, or use of multipliers, is not a preferred methodology for economic evaluations.
There are serious questions to answer as to why the state development department accepted at face value an economic model that is not preferred by that department and was formulated on behalf of the mining company that is set to make a significant financial gain from this legislation. Moreover, the state development department report concedes at page 10 that this ‘analysis assumed that economic costs are already funded’. This means that the analysis commissioned by Sibelco and accepted as fact by the state development department ignores any economic or environmental costs of sandmining.
The use of input-output modelling has been labelled as biased, abused and deficient by the ABS, the Productivity Commission and the New South Wales Land and Environment Court. Sibelco have been using this biased and one-sided modelling to run a public relations campaign to mislead island residents about the economic contribution of sandmining. For the government to take this clearly biased analysis at face value and then include it as the primary justification for this legislation is dubious in the extreme.
According to the 2011 census, mining represents less than 14 per cent of direct employment on North Stradbroke Island or 115 jobs. The largest employer on the island is tourism classified as accommodation and food services. Yet in the so-called economic analysis that supposedly justifies this legislation, there is no modelling of the impact of extending sandmining on the island’s largest employer, tourism.
Previous analysis in 2011 by the former department of environment and resource management modelled that tourism provided a direct contribution of $25 million per year to the island. When the department was asked for this document in committee hearings it was said to have been lost, only to be provided later by other submitters to the committee. In contrast, the last economic analysis that was subject to the scrutiny of the ASX in 2008 claimed the direct value of sandmining on North Stradbroke Island to be $22.9 million.
Tourism Australia has estimated that there are 300,000 to 400,000 tourists visiting the island each year. The Newman government’s claim that this extension to sandmining is required for an economic transition is just not grounded in any independent analysis or established fact. The Newman LNP government thinks it can con Queenslanders into accepting the biased, one-sided, economic modelling of a mining company with a vested financial interest. This is just how arrogant and out of touch this government has become.
It is interesting to note here that the Premier’s father, as federal environment minister, put an end to sandmining on the world’s largest sand island, Fraser Island. The Premier’s father many years ago, in the 1970s, provided just eight weeks for the economic transition away from sandmining on Fraser Island yet the Premier is trying to con Queenslanders into believing that eight years is not enough as a transition strategy and that they need to add 22 years to the economic transition on North Stradbroke Island. It is just unbelievable. If the Premier’s father can do in eight weeks what the Premier cannot do in eight years then I respectfully suggest he is actually in the wrong job.
Just as the Newman government has accepted the economic modelling of Sibelco as gospel, so have they also accepted their so-called scientific advice on environmental impacts. An extensive literature review of scientific studies indicates that there is no established scientific consensus on how far underground the aquifers on North Stradbroke Island extend.
The proximity of the Enterprise mine to Blue Lake means that the possibility of permanent and irreparable damage to this unique natural asset is very, very real. Blue Lake has been subject to research by the intergovernmental panel on climate change because it has remained unchanged for 7,000 years despite climatic changes. For this reason, some scientists have labelled Blue Lake God’s bathtub. Sibelco’s claim that the island aquifer will not be permanently damaged by the extension of sandmining at the Enterprise mine—
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Berry): Order! Honourable members, please. I call the member for South Brisbane.
Ms TRAD: Sibelco’s claim that the island’s aquifer will not be permanently damaged by the extension of sandmining at the Enterprise mine until 2035 has again been accepted as fact by this government. This claim is not grounded in any independent scientific consensus.
Only last month a United Nations technical committee listed sandmining as a new and emerging issue, with the impacts of sandmining a largely unacknowledged threat to ecological values and biodiversity. Yet this government is pushing forward with an extension of sandmining on the basis of advice from the mining company on the world’s second largest sand island.
There are a broad range of scientific studies that have found that sandmining changes the equilibrium conditions within an aquifer due to one or more of a combination of alternations in the physical, chemical and microbiological conditions of the aquifer and surrounding systems. Earlier today in the AREC hearing we heard from a CSIRO scientist. That was certainly the case when discussing the impact of CSG on underground aquifers. When it comes to coexistence with agricultural practices it was very clear that there is a very real risk to the health and the capacity of aquifers to meet the needs of both land users because of their interconnectedness.
A study by the European Joint Research Centre at Ispra, Italy, has found that dredging and other central extractions and processing activities can result in a lowering of the alluvial water table. Effects on groundwater storage capacity contribute to saline intrusion and lead to a loss of habitat and biodiversity.
If Blue Lake is permanently destroyed by the extension of sandmining on North Stradbroke Island let it be on the heads of any and every member in this House who votes for this bill. The potential cost to future tourism revenue from damage to North Stradbroke Island’s aquifer likely far outweighs any economic benefits from extending sandmining to 2035.
This government has no intention of undertaking any independent economic or scientific analysis on this bill. That is pretty clear. For this cash for legislation LNP government it is simply a done deal.
The introduction of this bill follows, as I mentioned earlier, a $91,840 spend in the seat of Ashgrove at the last state election advocating a vote—
Mr Rickuss interjected.
Ms TRAD: I wonder if the member for Redlands has declared that. Thank you very much. I will take that interjection, member for Lockyer. I hope that is declared at the beginning—
Mr Rickuss interjected.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Lockyer and member for South Brisbane, please include me in your discussions. I call the member for South Brisbane.
Ms TRAD: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I shall include you in my discussions. I sincerely hope that the member for Redlands does declare that Sibelco spent money in his electorate at the last state election advocating a vote for the LNP. I sincerely hope he does.
Mr DOWLING: Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. I am not aware of any such expenditure. Perhaps the member could provide evidence to the chamber for the allegations she is making. I find it offensive.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Berry): It is not a point of order.
Mr DOWLING: I find it offensive and I ask that it be withdrawn. It was a personal reflection.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Are you going to withdraw?
Ms TRAD: The member for Lockyer said it. That is what he interjected to me.
Mr Rickuss: I didn’t. I said ‘in Redlands’, not the member for Redlands.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Excuse me just for one moment. Firstly, I do not need directions from the member for South Brisbane. The member for Redlands has taken exception not to what the member for Lockyer said but to what you said. Are you prepared to withdraw?
Ms TRAD: I withdraw. As I said, the introduction of this bill follows—
Government members interjected.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, let’s proceed so we can have the member for South Brisbane proceed to deliver her speech. Those who want to speak afterwards are always entitled to do so. I call the member for South Brisbane.
Ms TRAD: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I will say it again because it is an important point to make: the introduction of this bill follows $91,840 spent in Ashgrove at the last state election, advocating a vote for the Liberal National Party and particularly for the candidate in Ashgrove, the Hon. Campbell Newman. It follows a series of eight meetings over less than two months between the government—
Mr KRAUSE: Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. The member for South Brisbane is engaging in tedious repetition under standing order 236(1). I ask you to direct her to cease doing that.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. I call the member for South Brisbane.
Ms TRAD: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. The electoral spend in Ashgrove was in fact a very well thought out campaign strategy that was put together by Rowland. I will table this paper now for the benefit of the House, and I will outline exactly why this $91,000 was spent in Ashgrove.
Tabled paper: Document titled ‘Achieving social, environmental and economic progress in an island community: sand mining and its benefits on North Stradbroke Island’, by Rowland, category: public affairs.
In their own summary, Rowland said at page 2—
The strategy was extremely successful and the overall goal exceeded. The newly-elected government committed to extending sand-mining operations to 2035, allowing ample time for Sibelco to complete its operations and for the NSI community to transition to alternate economic drivers.
On page 3 they state—
Rowland was engaged to develop and implement a public affairs strategy to influence public opinion and political decision-making, to ensure the continuation of sand mining until at least 2027—
but they got 2035—
Several key challenges were involved in this task:
• Potential loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in company profits and related investment and royalties
The objectives to their campaign included—
1. Achieve pre-election community consensus on NSI’s future direction, and a collaborative approach to influencing the Liberal National Party’s (LNP) position in favour of continued sand mining operations
2. Demonstrate to the LNP Sibelco’s tangible investment in the sustainable management of NSI’s sand mining operations and track record of success
I will skip to No. 4, which states—
4. Achieve public endorsement by the then Queensland Opposition Leader, Campbell Newman, for the continuation of Sibelco’s NSI operations until 2027.
I think this is probably where the CEO of Sibelco and the then opposition leader met perhaps once, maybe two times, to discuss. Also, in the strategy at page 5, I think it is very important that Rowland, on behalf of Sibelco, in terms of refining their campaign did a bit of research. One of the key findings states—
• Although NSI residents had high awareness of Sibelco’s community contribution, their priority was sustaining their way of life rather than the foreign-owned mining operator’s business
So the influence on this strategy states—
• Centred on key community issues with less emphasis on Sibelco’s corporate brand. Key tactical elements such as the ‘Straddie Stories’ campaign and community benefit fund were given their own local identifies
Mr Deputy Speaker, there you have it: ‘The community does not like the big mining proponent’s brand, so we need to wrap it up in ‘Straddie Stories’ or ‘Straddie mothers’ in Ashgrove to sell the story, to sell it to the soft target.’ It is an absolute outrage. The strategy is there for all to see. We learned that on the 11th of the 11th the honourable the Premier was the surprise guest at the Rowland global launch and there at the Rowland global launch was also Sibelco. So obviously the close relationship continues.
At a parliamentary estimates hearing earlier this year it was established that three of these meetings between an LNP political staffer, a lobbyist and Sibelco took place with no departmental officers present. Worse still, these three meetings were declared by the Integrity Commissioner’s lobbyist contact log as about ‘making or amendment of legislation’. The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection advised the Agriculture, Resources and Environment Committee that, in contrast, no consultation was undertaken with the native title holder, the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation, or QYAC, prior to the introduction of this legislation into this parliament. This was despite a clear promise before the election that ‘an LNP government would consult with community and other stakeholders to agree on an orderly transition to end sandmining on North Stradbroke Island’. Instead, the government wrote to QYAC threatening to illegally suspend their Indigenous land use agreement. It was only after QYAC’s lawyers brought to the government’s attention that this would be illegal under the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993 that this threat was withdrawn.
Quite in contrast to the minister’s statements in his speech earlier, there was no balance in this. There was no balance in the drafting of these amendments, in shaping the changes or the extension in time frame or in anything to do with this bill. There was absolutely no balance in the pre-bill consultation phase at all. The treatment of the Indigenous native title holders in the development of this bill is a complete and utter disgrace. Members of this government should be ashamed of the way the Quandamooka people have been treated in the development of this bill. They should feel ashamed that the Quandamooka people have had to come to this House, had to sit in committee meetings, begging and pleading for parliamentarians not to take away what they had fought for and what they had duly won through their 14-year struggle. Every single member who supports this legislation should feel incredibly ashamed of themselves for having done that. When the previous government legislated away Sibelco’s—
Government members interjected.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, please.
Government members interjected.
Ms TRAD: Mr Deputy Speaker, I should—
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Just wait for a moment. We just need a bit of calm. I call the member for South Brisbane.
Ms TRAD: Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I did scribble a note on my page when I was listening very avidly to the minister’s description of the time line of events that one thing he did not mention—and I hope it was a mere oversight and not because he thought it was insignificant—was the Federal Court native title determination in relation to North Stradbroke Island. That was omitted from the minister’s time line. It was a significant event in terms of the Quandamooka people. It was a significant event in terms of the island’s history. So that—just to refresh the minister’s memory—occurred in 2011. So a lot of the former government’s activities in this was in relation to responding to the Federal Court’s determination in relation to native title.
It was an interesting thing that the former government should go to those who were recognised by the Federal Court as the native title holders of North Stradbroke Island and ask them what they wanted to do in relation to the future of the island. It was very clear that what they wanted was an end to sandmining on North Stradbroke Island. One would think that, given the dispossession and the atrocities that have occurred in relation to Australia’s first inhabitants, there would be—
Mr Cripps interjected.
Ms TRAD: I am sorry, Minister. I apologise and I withdraw that. The minister did reference the Federal Court native title determination. I think it would be incredibly disrespectful for any government to turn around after a native title determination and ignore the wishes of those who are quite clearly identified as the native title owners of North Stradbroke Island.
This bill legislates away native title holders’ appeal rights against the extension of sandmining on their land in 2035, and it is absolutely disgusting. It is what they want. When the previous government legislated away Sibelco’s appeal rights against the discontinuation of sandmining after their existing lease had expired, the Premier was outraged. However, there is no outrage from the Premier on behalf of the Indigenous native title holders’ appeal rights because the Premier simply does not care about their rights. Instead, the Premier only cares about the legal rights of a mining company—
Dr Robinson interjected.
Ms TRAD: I note that the member for Cleveland is very anxious to make a contribution. He is on the speaking list. Perhaps he can contain himself for a couple more minutes. Instead, the Premier only cares about the legal rights of a mining company that directly supported his election campaign in Ashgrove. In May this year Sibelco provided the government with a briefing note containing a detailed—
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Berry): Order! Honourable members! I call the member for South Brisbane.
Ms TRAD: In May this year, Sibelco provided the government with a briefing note containing a detailed set of requests as to what it wanted in this legislation. Every single one of these requests has been met by the Newman government in this bill—lock, stock and barrel. Sibelco requested that ‘the restricted mine path be removed from the North Stradbroke Island Protection and Sustainability Act and Sibelco’s environmental authority so that Sibelco can generate a feasible mine path’. Tick. This request has been met lock, stock and barrel in the bill. This means that environmental protections will be removed over a mine path area that potentially includes koala and glossy black cockatoo habitat. Sibelco requested that ‘the terms of mining lease 1117, mining lease 1105 and mining lease 1120 or the mining lease for the Enterprise mine be changed to 31 December 2035’. Tick. This request has been met lock, stock and barrel in this bill. In its briefing note Sibelco stated—
The commencement of the North Stradbroke Island Protection and Sustainability Act interfered with Sibelco utilising the usual amendment process for removing the restricted mine path from our environmental authority. Further, there is an opportunity to bring Sibelco’s environmental authority in line with the government’s new model conditions. Sibelco requests that legislative process be utilised to a new environmental authority on this basis, the detail of which will be provided to the state.
Here we have Sibelco writing its own environmental authority. In summary, this is a request that Sibelco provide the detail of its environmental authority and that it be included in this bill so that no consultation is required on the conditions or the alteration of the conditions. This is an absolute disgrace. This is what Sibelco asked for and, tick, it has been met in this bill. I understand it is quite unusual—it is unique—that an environmental authority be included in legislation. One has to ask why Sibelco is getting preferential treatment in this regard.
In questioning to the parliamentary committee as to why no further consultation would take place on the environmental authority, it was advised that a previous 2003 environmental study had taken place over the same lease area. However, at pages 1 to 2 of this report it states specifically in relation to the Enterprise mine lease—
Detailed evaluation of the second half of the enterprise mine (i.e. 2013 onwards or stage 2) is subject to further mine optimisation, feasibility and environmental assessment.
This means that the operation of this lease until 2035 was not included in the 2003 assessment and that consultation on the environmental approval has been removed merely at the request of the mining company. Every single request in the May 2013 briefing note provided by Sibelco to the government has been met in this bill. When departmental officers were asked at parliamentary committee hearings as to who provided the maps of mining lease areas in the bill, it was advised, ‘Yes, it is a map supplied by Sibelco as part of their submission’. In relation to the environmental authority, there are also remaining concerns about less than fulsome answers being provided to the committee by departmental officers.
Mr Cripps: Your behaviour during the committee hearing was an absolute disgrace in relation to departmental officers, and you are the one who should be ashamed of yourself during that committee hearing.
Ms TRAD: I will take that interjection. What should be shameful to every single member of this House is what the member for Cleveland did—badgering old women, asking them if they were part of radical environmental organisations, and then when the Quandamooka people turned up he stormed out. What a coward!
Dr ROBINSON: Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. I find those comments offensive and I ask that they be withdrawn.
Ms TRAD: I withdraw. In relation to the environmental authority, there are also remaining concerns about less than fulsome answers being provided to the committee. The department advised that ‘there are no cultural heritage areas that are listed or meet the definition of category B within that area’. While this is true in terms of the cultural heritage register, there are sites on the Aboriginal cultural heritage database within the mining area. It has been revealed in the process of this legislation that these culturally sensitive areas have not been added to the cultural heritage register by the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs. In fact, only three culturally sensitive areas have been included on the Aboriginal cultural heritage register state-wide. Quite frankly, I find the absence of a full and open answer in relation to my questioning on this matter completely disrespectful in terms of the role that every parliamentarian has to play in terms of scrutinising the legislation that comes before them. It is outrageous that departmental officers should withhold that level of information.
To be really clear, I asked departmental officers if there were culturally sensitive areas in the expanded mining lease area. The answer was no, but the answer should have been ‘not on the heritage register but certainly on the database’. There are three. There are three Aboriginal culturally sensitive areas within the mining area that are on the database and the department did not disclose that fact.
The attempt to provide assurances around mining activities close to the Ramsar wetland declared areas is also weak, as the environmental authority merely requires the mining proponent to assess its own activities—there you go; checks and balances—and then notify the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection of any breach. Before I move to a conclusion, I did want to say that quite some time ago—
Government members interjected.
Ms TRAD: If you want to keep interrupting, I will go for as long as I possibly can. I was in between events in my car and I tuned into Steve Austin on 14 November, and I noticed that the honourable Premier was the guest on Steve Austin that day.
I was very interested in the exchange that the Premier and Steve Austin had in relation to Mr Clive Palmer, who has recently taken his seat as the member for Fairfax. I raise this because the Premier was adamant that the reason he fell out with Clive Palmer was that he requested preferential treatment.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Berry): Order! Member for South Brisbane, is this—
Ms TRAD: It is—
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: I will listen carefully.
Government members interjected.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, we need to get the relevance out on this.
Ms TRAD: I have made it very clear in my address here today that Sibelco asked for an extension to the mining lease and they got it. In fact, they got more than they asked for. They asked for the environmental authority to be included in the bill and they got it. They provided the department with all of the economic modelling on which to justify the bill and they got it. They included the map that is the reference map in the legislation. It is a map provided by Sibelco. Everything that Sibelco wanted they got. Everything in the briefing to government they got.
Mr Cox interjected.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Thuringowa, once is enough. We heard you.
Ms TRAD: It was okay. Whatever he said was inconsequential, like most of the things he says.
The issue here is that Sibelco asked for and got preferential treatment, but the Premier said on Steve Austin’s program that the reason he fell out with Clive Palmer was that he expected preferential treatment. He said Clive Palmer wanted to build stuff on sand dunes. However, Sibelco is sandmining sand dunes close to Ramsar areas. He said that Clive Palmer offered up his own form of legislation that he wanted to have introduced. Sibelco have essentially written this legislation, written their environmental authority, provided the economic modelling and also asked for the environmental authority to be included in the legislation. Everything Sibelco wanted Sibelco got, but everything that Clive Palmer wanted was a reason to kick him out of the LNP. I think that there is another story here. I think most people can smell it.
Mr Cripps: You’ve got no evidence though, do you?
Ms TRAD: No, but—
Mr Cripps: You’ve got no evidence—exactly right!
Ms TRAD:—I think most people can smell it. If it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, then it is a duck.
Before I conclude, I would like to quote from some of the groups who have submitted to the Agriculture, Resources and Environment Committee and who have been flatly ignored by this government. Ms Jennie Truman, a local businessperson, is someone who has actually been operating a business on the island for longer than Sibelco has been there. Ms Jennie Truman said—
Sandmining is not a sustainable industry on North Stradbroke. Sandmining is not the backbone of the island economy—
Dr Robinson interjected.
Ms TRAD: Mr Deputy Speaker. I will stop that quote there. Interjecting on me is one thing, but this is a member who turned up to the public hearing. I think it is incumbent on members of this House to hear what a member, a resident, a business owner, on Stradbroke Island had to say about this amendment bill. If you want to interject—
Dr Robinson: I heard it. I was there.
Ms TRAD: Yes, you were—anyway—
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for South Brisbane, address through the chair. Honourable members, allow the member for South Brisbane to continue unheeded.
Ms TRAD: Ms Jennie Truman, a local businessperson, told the committee—
Sandmining is not a sustainable industry on North Stradbroke. Sandmining is not the backbone of the island economy. It is not the largest employer on North Stradbroke. I have not seen any real economic data to substantiate what would happen to the local community if mining ceased.
I have run successful businesses on the island for 25 years. In that time, I have witnessed a dwindling population, services diminish and disappear, high school closure and a declining standard of living in some communities. This has been happening whilst we have mining. So mining is not the great saviour that some people make it out to be.
The CEO of QYAC told the committee—
… the bill should be rejected by the parliament for the following reasons: it breaches the contractual rights of the Quandamooka people under their ILUA; it invalidly affects the Quandamooka people’s native title rights and interests, and neither the state nor Sibelco has sought their prior informed consent; it impacts upon the human rights of the Quandamooka people, recognised by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; it is racially discriminatory; it unreasonably favours a foreign owned private company over the rights of the traditional owners; it impacts upon sensitive environmental areas and areas proposed to become national parks, the national parks that we call Naree Budjong Djara, our Mother Earth; it significantly reduces environmental controls and increases the environmental impact of Enterprise Mine on the Moreton Bay Ramsar area …
To briefly cover off, this bill also removes the requirement for an applicant for vegetation clearing to lodge a significant beneficial impact such as the revegetation of another area to minimise the impact of the proposed clearing under the Vegetation Management Framework Amendment Bill of 2013. I note that the explanatory notes state—
It is proposed that the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP) Module 8: Native vegetation clearing will require applicants to provide an offset for the impacts of clearing endangered and of concern regional ecosystems or a SBI delivered within the landscape. The SDAP will also require applicants to demonstrate how they will minimise or mitigate against the adverse impacts of clearing.
I hope that the government continues this requirement in the state development assessment provision and I call on the minister to confirm this.
In conclusion, this bill is an indictment on this Newman LNP government and it is an assault on democracy in this state. It is evidence that a multimillion dollar public relations campaign with an accompaniment of political favours has more sway under a Newman LNP government than the valid democratic and legal rights of Queenslanders and particularly of Queensland native title holders. When the Premier was asked about his direct meetings with Sibelco, he did not directly rule out having discussed electoral support, claiming that he was approached by Sibelco. In relation to the LNP’s position, the Premier claimed Sibelco said, ‘We like that and we will support you.’
For the Newman government to extend sandmining to 2035 on North Stradbroke Island while Magistrates Court proceedings are still underway regarding allegations of sand being stolen by Sibelco is questionable at best. It is even more ridiculous when honourable members consider that this government has used the maps of lease areas provided by Sibelco in this legislation. They have extended the lease to dates requested by Sibelco in this legislation. They have legislated the environmental conditions requested by Sibelco in this legislation and have removed the mine path from legislation at the request of Sibelco, all the while completely disregarding any consultation process with the native title holder on this legislation prior to its introduction. It is a complete disgrace. It is quite clearly preferential treatment. If it is good enough for Clive Palmer to be dismissed out of hand for asking for preferential treatment, then the Premier really needs to explain why Sibelco could manage to get preferential treatment from this government.
All of this follows the $91,840 spend in electoral support by Sibelco in the Premier’s seat of Ashgrove at the last state election. That electoral support was both not disclosed within the proper time frames and became known about three days before the 2012 state election, meaning that most voters would not have been aware of it. Doubt also remains as to whether all the electoral support provided by Sibelco has been properly declared. There are serious questions to answer as to why this electoral support was initially covered up.
Mr Cripps: What evidence have you got? What evidence have you got? You’ve got no evidence.
Ms TRAD: I will take that interjection from the minister. ‘What evidence do I have?’ Have a look at the campaign strategy put together by Sibelco: cinema ads as well as mail-outs and flyers. There was quite a lot in terms of websites and social media campaigns. All Sibelco put in the Electoral Commission return were the mail-outs. There was no cinema advertising, no flyers and no social media. No, they did not put in any of that but Rowland has said in their campaign strategy—their strategic campaign strategy—that they were the winning components of their campaign to ensure that sandmining continued on Stradbroke Island. What evidence do I have? I have evidence from Rowland, thank you very much, Minister.
Mr Cripps interjected.
Ms TRAD: I do. There are serious concerns and questions to answer as to why this electoral support was initially covered up. Nor was there any promise before the election that sandmining would be extended for another 22 years with Sibelco having agreed to exit all mining activities by 2027.
Let me be clear: despite the assertions of the Premier and the LNP MPs, the government never committed to this legislation before the election and does not have the mandate of the people to do this. The Newman government’s claim that it has an election mandate to enact a cash-for-legislation deal is false and emblematic of an arrogant government that believes democratic process is beneath it.
The claims made to justify this legislation are lacking in any factual, economic or scientific basis. To accept the economic and scientific advice of a mining company with a vested financial interest without question is deeply, deeply concerning. Every Queenslander should be extremely concerned at the morally noxious precedent this legislative process sets for this government. Do not let the Premier’s theatrics at the federal member for Fairfax deceive you; this is a government for those with deep pockets, not for the average Queensland family. If you vote for this bill, you are voting to irreparably—
Government members interjected.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Robinson): Order! Member for South Brisbane, if you are being provocative—
Ms TRAD: No, I understand. I did not pull a point of order or anything.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: I was just surprised by the pregnant pause, that is all.
Ms TRAD: I am just collecting my thoughts, thank you very much. Do not let the Premier’s theatrics at the federal member for Fairfax deceive you. This is a government for those with deep pockets, not for the average Queensland family.
A government member interjected.
Ms TRAD: Do not worry; I have some more to say. If you vote for this bill, you are voting to irreparably damage a unique ecosystem, and you are also voting to deny tourism opportunities worth potentially hundreds of millions of dollars into the future. I urge members in this parliament to think before they vote and not merely accept information submitted from a mining company with a clear vested financial interest as fact. A vote for this legislation is a vote to deny proper democratic process. It is a vote to enact a cash-for-legislation deal, and I call on members of this parliament to oppose it.
Mr Newman interjected.
Ms TRAD: I will take that interjection from the Premier. I think the Premier and the Attorney-General need to be thanked for bringing my attention to the relevant standing order in terms of conflicts of interest, because after the cursory glance that I have made on the register of members’ interests I am pretty sure that there are some people who have not declared conflicts of interest in relation to voting on legislation. I would like to thank the Attorney-General for his very illuminating lesson on the relevant standing orders.
I do want to end with ‘Stradbroke Island is Precious—An Open Letter to Campbell Newman’. This is an open letter from the Friends of Stradbroke Island. I will just remind people that Friends of Stradbroke Island is modelled very much on Friends of Fraser Island. They were very, very successful at persuading the then Fraser government to end sandmining on Fraser Island. Do you know what? They had a sympathetic ear in the federal environment minister at that time, who was also the honourable the Premier’s father. I would really like to read from this open letter. It says—
Dear Mr Newman,
We have some questions about your North Stradbroke Bill to extend sand mining.
Your father, as Federal Environment minister, ended sand mining on Fraser Island in 1976. He accepted that sand mining causes major permanent environmental harm and damages the tourism economy. Why won’t you?
Sand mining will result in the total destruction of 14 square kilometres of forests, rich in biodiversity and scenic value, at Sibelco’s Enterprise mine.
On 30 October, your department admitted that over 70% of the mine path is “undisturbed bushland”. Did you know that this is home to many threatened species, including the island’s genetically distinct koala and the beautiful glossy black cockatoo?
Scientists conclude that sand mining also destroys the complex structure of ancient sand dunes integral to the flow of water to the island’s internationally recognised wetlands and lakes. These constitute half the island. A huge fresh water aquifer also lies beneath the whole island.
There is significant widespread opposition to your actions, including from island business owners. Your legislation will cause more community division. It will also set back reconciliation with traditional owners, who say they will challenge your Bill in the Federal Court.
Prior to the 2012 State election you promised a level playing field for mining leases on Stradbroke. Instead, your Bill shifts the goal posts for Sibelco and sacks the umpire. Elsewhere in Queensland opponents can challenge mining extensions in the Supreme Court. Your Bill abolishes this right.
Your Bill creates a special law for a private company owned by the fourth richest family in Belgium, a company which is on trial in Brisbane for illegal sand mining on Stradbroke. Why didn’t you await the court’s verdict, due early next year?
As you know, your Attorney-General has refused to arm the Director of Public Prosecutions with your government’s files so the DPP can decide whether he agrees with the opinion of two experienced criminal lawyers (one a senior counsel) that there is a prima facie case for also charging Sibelco with stealing and fraud.
You are also aware that the Federal Environment department is investigating whether the Enterprise mine has operated without the necessary Federal Government approval since 2004. Why didn’t you wait until the results of this investigation are known? What about due process?
An analysis of your Bill shows that Sibelco is getting everything it asked for and more! In 2011, Sibelco asked for an extension of mining to 2027—you are extending it to 2035!
Mr Newman, what is going on? Why are you breaking pre-election promises and trashing the rights of Queenslanders to hand over $1.5 billion (Sibelco’s own figure) to a wealthy Belgian family?
Your government has sacked over 20,000 public servants. Do you really think that Queenslanders will swallow your claim to be extending sand mining for 22 years to provide a “transition” for, according to the latest census, 115 mine workers?
Sibelco declared, well after the 2012 State election, that it spent $91,840 to help your campaign in Ashgrove. But it also spent much more (undeclared) money on numerous full page newspaper ads and television advertising to peddle its PR myths.
Is there a connection between your broken promises to electors and Sibelco’s political expenditure? What was discussed at your private meetings with Sibelco CEO, Campbell Jones?
You know that there have been no independent economic or environmental impact studies. And your department admitted on 30 October there has been no consultation with anyone apart from Sibelco. Do you think Queenslanders may conclude that this looks like a crooked deal?
Isn’t it time there was an independent public enquiry into sand mining on North Stradbroke Island?
Ms TRAD: I will table this open letter for the benefit of the House so that people can download copies of it, because I think it is very instructive.
Tabled paper: Document titled ‘An open letter to Campbell Newman: Stradbroke Island is precious’ by Friends of Stradbroke Island Inc.
This open letter says it all. What it says is that despite an election commitment by the then opposition LNP and the then opposition leader that what he was looking at is restoring the original mining lease time frame and that what he would do is consult with everyone involved in the responsible transition out of sandmining on Stradbroke Island; despite all of these commitments before the election—and unbeknownst to many people just before the election—there was almost $92,000 spend in Ashgrove to advocate a vote for the Premier in the 2012 state election campaign. Unbeknownst to people at that time, when the Premier was announcing the LNP’s position he did not disclose that he had had personal meetings with the CEO of Sibelco to discuss what appears to be a legislative change. He has not ruled out categorically in this House that during those meetings electoral support was not raised. So despite all of this, the government wants Queenslanders to believe that this bill represents an altruistic response to economic conditions. Let us be really clear. This is a government that Queenslanders know has sacked almost 20,000 workers. This is a government that has closed down important pain clinics.
Mr Crandon interjected.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Berry): Member for Coomera, do you know which seat you sit in?
Mr Crandon: I am sorry?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: You have to make comments from your seat.
Mr Crandon: Why don’t you make it 25,000?
Ms TRAD: I am sure the member for Coomera would understand that if you withdraw funds from important programs that are funded by the state government then community organisations have to lay off workers—important workers, workers who actually look after the employment preparation of disadvantaged Queenslanders.
Honourable members interjected.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: Honourable members, I cannot hear the speaker.
Ms TRAD: What this all points to fundamentally is that the LNP government—the arrogant Newman LNP government—cannot stand being called on their hypocrisy. They claim that this bill is all about responsible economic transition. Where was the responsible economic transition for 20,000 Queenslanders who were sacked overnight by this government after the Premier said that public servants had nothing to fear from an LNP government? If only he had kept that commitment! He kept his commitment to Sibelco but he could not keep his commitment to the Queensland Public Service.
Mr RUTHENBERG: Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. I would ask you to rule on relevance. That has absolutely nothing to do with the long title of the bill.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: I am not taking that point of order. I call the member for South Brisbane.
Ms TRAD: I know it hurts when people call them on their hypocrisy. Why does Sibelco get all of this favourable preferential treatment for 115 jobs when 20,000 workers were sacked at the hands of the LNP and the Premier? Why this hypocritical position? Maybe it has something to do with the $92,000 spend that helped get Campbell Newman elected in Ashgrove. Maybe. Maybe it has something to do with the private meetings held between Campbell Jones and Campbell Newman. Who would know? All the Premier has to do is come into this House and categorically—we have given him plenty of opportunities—state that electoral campaign support was not discussed in his private meetings with Campbell Jones.
Speech taken from Hansard 20 November 2013