Australian media commentator Alan Jones has emerged as a powerful new ally for the campaign to protect farmland from long-term negative impacts in recent months.
The impact of mining on rural areas is an issue close to the broadcaster’s heart. He grew up at Acland on Queensland’s Darling Downs, a tiny farming town that has been emptied in recent years to make way for the expansion of a large open cut coal mine.
Mr Jones has used his national radio program in recent months to question the impact that the growing investment rush into coal and coal seam gas mining developments in Australia poses to the country’s future food security and regional way of life.
Last week in an address to the National Press Club he said there was reason to beleive that Australia had too many CSG projects already, and it was time to pause and to devise a course of action which balanced all interests before proceeding with further developments.
“Without seeking permission from the Australian community at either an election or a referendum, our politicians are turning some of our best land into a quarry and a worthless lunar moonscape,” Mr Jones told the gathering of press gallery journalists.
“The Great Artesian Basin and our underground aquifers are being risked for the next 200 years by fracking and the use of toxic chemicals.
“Scientists admit that nobody full understands the complex interconnectivity of these systems of while they really work.”
People had decided in their thousands to do something by locking their gate, he said, which meant the mining industry now had a monumental battle on its hands.
Mr Jones said two Federal Labor MPs from Queensland had recently highlighted food security as a pressing issue for Australia. Kevin Rudd recently warned that global food production would need to increase by 70pc by the middle of next century to feed a population of 9.3 billion people.
Member for Rankin Dr Craig Emerson said Australia had a huge opportunity to export food to Asia in future as populations explode and demand for protein-rich food soars.
“The irony of those comments is that both Mr Rudd and Dr Emerson both represent Queensland electorates,” Mr Jones said. “In nothing that they said did they make any reference to the fact that Queensland is allowing mining interests to plunder the very land that could guarantee our food security, or in Dr Emerson’s words, to guarantee a massive opportunity for Australia in Asia.”
Mr Jones said global food shortages were imminent but the amount of Australian land dedicated to agriculture had fallen by 20pc since 1976.
He added that he was not opposed to coal mining or CSG mining, just the “arrogance with which these people think they can go anywhere, do what they want and get away with it”.
Click below to watch Mr Jones’ address to the National Press Club.
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