Speech to Environmental Protection (Underground Water Management) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill

Mr WATTS (12.55 am): I would like to talk about the commencement of the bill which is at clause 2. Unfortunately, I was unable to speak to the bill earlier. Obviously, the commencement of this legislation has a great impact on the people of the Darling Downs and particularly those living in Toowoomba. The guillotine was brought down on my neck at 12 o’clock at night so that I could not represent the people of my region in this place.

Government members interjected.

Mr WATTS: Those interjecting now would still have me not represent the people that I represent in this place. They might try to silence me, but I will not be silenced. There are hundreds of jobs at stake as a result of this bill. Principally, this bill is about two jobs—one in South Brisbane and one in Mount Coot-tha. That is what this bill is about.

Mr SPEAKER: Member for Toowoomba North, I would ask you to speak to the clause.

Mr WATTS: The clause is the commencement of the bill. At clause 2 it states—
(1) Parts 2 and 4 commence immediately after the commencement of the Water Reform and Other Legislation Amendment Act …
In clause 4 it talks about a definition of underground water. We are talking about underground water and the fact that Acland coalmine will have to go through the entire process again which will put the livelihood of hundreds of people in my region at risk. There will be hundreds of jobs lost with the commencement of this bill simply to save two jobs—two that need green votes. They should be ashamed of themselves. They take money from the CFMEU, but they do not represent their workers at all. What they do—

Mr SPEAKER: Member for Toowoomba North, will you make your comments relevant to clause 2.

Mr WATTS: Clause 2 speaks to the commencement of the bill. When this bill commences there will be hundreds of workers on the Darling Downs who lose their jobs. Tonight—

Honourable members interjected.

Mr SPEAKER: Members, it is not a chance for a shouting match.

Mr WATTS: Tonight I had the guillotine brought down on my head so that I could not represent my people with regard to the commencement of this bill. I was not allowed to speak on this bill because they are too ashamed to allow a member from the Darling Downs represent the people whose jobs are on the line.

That is what they did here tonight. They did that to save two jobs in the city—one at Mount Coot-tha and one at South Brisbane. Make no mistake, the commencement of this bill will cost hundreds of jobs on the Darling Downs. They should be ashamed of themselves. Those families work in the cafes. Their kids go to the schools. The families spend their money at our retail stores.

The commencement of this bill will see all of those people unemployed. Hundreds of people directly and thousands of people indirectly will be unemployed because of the commencement of this bill. That is why I oppose clause 2 and every other clause in this bill.

Mr WATTS: I rise to support the amendments put forward by the member for Hinchinbrook. For the people of the Darling Downs, this is where the rubber hits the road. They have been going through an exhaustive process to gain the various approvals required for them to be able to continue mining on that site. The process has been tested, there have been public submissions, it has been through the court and it has involved the Coordinator-General. They are now being put in double jeopardy after they have gone through this entire process in good faith over many years. The original court process was supposed to draw to a close long before this, but what I would call green lawfare broke out, where they just kept trying to wrap the process up with more and more objections—none of which had any great consequence to them and all of which were designed to make sure this project was delayed and delayed and delayed.

The greenies, including those in South Brisbane and Mount Coot-tha, have been fully aware that this mine will run out of coal if this is not approved on a certain time line. Their objective has always been to push that time line out so that the people of the Darling Downs who I represent would lose their jobs and this would impact on the families that are dependent on their income—simply based on an ideology held by those who live in South Brisbane and Mount Coot-tha. That is all they are trying to achieve. They have wrapped this process up over and over again in green objections. They have done everything they possibly could through the court process, and they are now putting them through a double jeopardy by making them go through all of those green processes again to prove what has already been publicly debated and to prove what has already been proved. All of that will occur and hundreds of people will lose their jobs, and that is something they should be ashamed of.

I would like to see them come up and visit the mine and visit the rehabilitation that has gone on in that mine and meet some of the families whose lives they are destroying and whose homes will be repossessed by the banks when they cannot pay their mortgages. They are the people I would like them to come to the Darling Downs to talk to, as well as anybody else whose income is dependent on the workers of this mine. The government members purport to represent workers in this state, but this is just embarrassing for them. Clearly they do not. These transitional arrangements of the original bill should not put them into double jeopardy. I certainly will be supporting the amendments put forward by the member for Hinchinbrook.

Mr WATTS: I am very interested in why the minister would be proposing such a thing. With his green credentials, to be proposing that the Adani mine could go ahead seems strange. I am sure the voters of Mount Coot-tha will thank him very much for making sure the Adani coalmine does go ahead, and I am sure that the member for South Brisbane will also be thanked—rightly—by her members for ensuring that the Adani mine goes ahead. What I am most curious about is the point that the member for Hinchliffe makes as to what is the material difference—

An opposition member: Hinchinbrook!

Mr WATTS: Hinchinbrook. Sorry, what did I say? I was very concerned that I will miss my train going home tonight. I apologise profusely to the member for Hinchinbrook.

My concern is what the material difference is here. There seems to be a very slippery political deal being done here by people who would like to see one mine project go ahead at the cost of another, and that is a great danger when we have laws being tampered with and messed around. It causes problems such as sovereign risk, because how can this House be trusted when the process is different between different projects? I am interested and very curious to hear from the minister as to why he would, with his great concern about his Green preferences, be endorsing the Adani coalmine to go ahead at the expense of the hundreds of families from the Darling Downs that I represent who are losing their jobs. I would like to hear what the material difference is.

I would like to understand why these amendments have been proposed by the member for Mount Coot-tha, and certainly I am sure that the people I represent on the Darling Downs would like to understand why they are not as important to the member for Mount Coot-tha and to the Labor Party as those who might live in other parts of the state. I put it to you that it is a political slippery deal that is being done here and something that this House should not be doing. It is something that the member for Mount Coot-tha should be ashamed of. He has certainly not stood by his own principles and he has done a deal to make sure that the mine in my area does not go ahead, while others have done a deal to make sure a mine in their area does go ahead. I think all parties should be condemned for it.

Ms Trad interjected.

Mr WATTS: I hear the member for South Brisbane, and I look forward very much to her Green opponent campaigning against her after she has approved the Adani mine and supported—
(Time expired)

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