Wednesday, 4 May 2016
Select Committee on Unconventional Gas Mining; Report
I present an interim report of the Senate Select Committee on Unconventional Gas Mining, together with the Hansard record of proceedings and documents presented to the committee.
Ordered that the report be printed.
That the Senate take note of the report.
One of the first issues I became aware of as a Queensland senator was the issue of CSG mining and the plight of Queensland families living with the scourge of this foul industry.
Over the last 18 months I have travelled throughout Queensland and other areas of the country affected by CSG mining.
I have seen firsthand the devastation this industry is having on people's lives, their health, their families, their livelihoods, the environment, water, livestock and pets, farms, local businesses and rural and regional communities.
I have met and become friends with Queensland families living with the hell of these gasfields.
I promised them that in my time as a senator I would do everything I could to publicise their plight—to make people aware of how our governments and the resource sector are allowing our people to be completely and utterly decimated by CSG mining.
It is not until you get out to the gasfields that you fully understand what is happening to our people.
They have no rights. They have no rights whatsoever.
Our people cannot say no to mining companies. They are not allowed—and, if they try, they are bullied, harassed, intimidated and threatened and told that they will be taken to the land court if they do not submit to the wishes of the mining company.
In the year 2016, in an age where we are supposed to have basic human rights, governments are allowing mining companies to simply come onto people's land, force them into land access agreements and commence mining on their land.
And what does CSG mining do to their land?
It depletes their land of water, contaminates and poisons what water is left—and completely erodes the value and useability of the land.
The toxic and harmful chemicals used in CSG mining cause health and medical issues.
Landholders not only have no right to say no to mining on their land—they become ill.
Families, including children, living in the Queensland gas fields are encountering nosebleeds, headaches, skin complaints, respiratory issues, heart issues and other medical problems.
Even more concerning, cancer clusters are now starting to appear.
When Queenslanders living in the Chinchilla gas fields go the doctor or a local hospital with medical issues, they are turned away.
They are told that because their health issue is a CSG health related issue they have to call 13 HEALTH.
When they do call 13 HEALTH, they are told to go to a doctor or hospital and the merry-go-round just continues on.
I believe what governments are allowing to happen to the people of Australia living with CSG mining is a form of genocide.
I believe because resource companies are paying political parties so much money in donations that governments are turning a blind eye to the damage being done to our people.
So it will come as no surprise to everyone that I, as the chair of this Senate inquiry, have to submit my own set of recommendations because the major parties including the Nationals—who have hung people of the land out to dry—are compromised due to the power and influence of the mining donors.
My list of recommendations is expansive, but most importantly they are designed to shed light on the injustice that is occurring in our own country, on the filthy corruption that is taking place across governments and the resource sector as both sectors collude to protect and take care of themselves, and on the urgent need for action to be taken to bring people to account.
I believe everyone involved in this filthy business should be held to account for what they are doing to the people and the environment.
Every politician and resource company executive in this country who has defended and stood up for CSG mining should be forced to drink the water and shower in the contaminated water that Queensland families are being forced to live with—for the rest of their lives.
I heard stories during the inquiry of CSG mining companies forcing subcontracting businesses to bury contaminated materials on Queensland family's land—to avoid the expense of treating the toxic products off site.
I heard stories of workers who had died and been severely injured while working for ruthless CSG mining companies—due to the companies cutting corners and putting profits before people and workers.
The challenge our country has in front of us is that the resource sector is donating to the major parties.
It is a powerful sector and it is a big sector.
But I do not underestimate the power of the people. If enough people vote for Independents and microparties in the coming election and future elections, we can bring about some change.
I call on every Australian—regardless of how you vote in the lower house, make sure you vote for the crossbenchers and microparties in the Senate.
Someone has to keep the majors accountable.
Because as we have seen, if no-one is holding them to account, they will continue to engage in and attempt to get away with murder.
In closing I would like to pay my respects to George Bender.
I table the committee's documents and my documents—in honour of George Bender.
He did not die in vain.
I would also like to thank Shay Dougall, the Nothdurfts, the Benders, Joe Hill, Anne Kennedy and many others who have opened up their hearts and their families to me to show me how CSG is impacting their lives.
While I have breath in me, I will keep fighting for you and everyone impacted by CSG mining.
Unfortunately, due to the imminent election, this report is an interim report and does not include a lot of information gathered in the NT.
But I hope it will assist the people of the NT to fight and fight like hell to stop the unconventional gas industry getting a foothold.
Daniel Tapp—keep fighting, mate.
To the staff of the committee, Toni Matulick and your team—you proved to be the most professional, considerate, helpful and efficient people I have dealt with and I sincerely thank you for your support.
To my committee members—I thank you.
While I appreciate you do not share my views and my passion to help people affected by CSG—I should say that certainly Senator Waters does support my passion for this issue—I am grateful for you at least giving me quorum to conduct the public hearings.
Without the hearings people would not have a voice.
I commend this report to the Senate.