THE State Government’s move to enhance protection for the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve jeopardising the $1.2 billion Pisolite Hills bauxite mine at the same time has been described as “an appalling decision” by Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch.
“This is an absolute disgrace and sends a very bad message regarding development in Queensland,” Mr Entsch said today. “It is a complete back-flip on the government’s commitment to due process and elevates Queensland’s sovereign risk profile.
“This could put plans for Aquis and Ella Bay at risk because even though a project has been granted ‘significant project’ status, there’s no assurance that it’ll get an appropriate level of assessment.”
Mr Entsch said he was shocked to learn that there was no consultation with the Mapoon community or Cape York Sustainable Futures, as the region’s peak development body.
“I certainly was not consulted as the local Federal Member and only became aware of the decision through reading about it in the media.
“Even Cape Alumina the company willing to invest more than a billion dollars and create 1700 jobs in our region only received a phone call from a senior government staff member half an hour before the press conference.
“Yet it was clearly prearranged because Terri and Bindi Irwin had enough notice to travel to Brisbane so they could stand beside Campbell Newman for the announcement.”
Mr Entsch said Mapoon Aboriginal Shire Council had put significant resources, time and energy into gearing up for the mine, including preparing to tender for contracts.
“After all that work, they learned of this decision in the media – the same way they found out about the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve deal in the first place.
“Just last week, the State Government had a photo opportunity in Mapoon to announce half a dozen new houses. But this week, they come along and knock the economic stuffing out of the community.”
Mr Entsch said he had always been very strongly supportive of the project and he had hoped that with the change in State Government, common sense would prevail.
“Cape York deserves to have an economic future and there is absolutely no reason that these projects can’t go hand in hand with environmental opportunities,” he said.
“I will not sit back and allow Cape York to continue to be a sacrificial lamb to shore up seats in the south-east.
“It’s important to recognise that this is draft proposal and I certainly will be putting in a submission outlining my objections to it. I would urge all others who have been left out of this process to avail themselves of the same opportunity.”