Imagine this scenario playing out.
The entire $5 billion, 16-day, 2032 Olympics event project being built in Brisbane City.
The proponents building the $2.7 billion Gabba redevelopment will not use established housing 20km from Woolloongabba.
They want to build a camp onsite near the cricket pitch where their 650 employees will eat, sleep and work during the four-year life of the project.
They ignore the economic and social impacts this will have on nearby Newmarket, West End, New Farm and Herston.
As neighbouring suburbs feel the cumulative impacts of the development, they are left to rot.
This is what is happening in Glenden, west of Mackay.
Mining company QCoal wants to build a camp at its $1.8 billion Byerwen project site, 20km away from the established town of Glenden. The operation boasts a mine life of 50 years.
Swiss giant Glencore is now exiting its nearby Newlands coal project.
The community it helped build 40 years ago is conditioned for bulldozing.
More than 300 homes and units on state-owned land is at risk of being demolished amid a housing crisis.
If this happened in the heart of the South-East corner, there would be chaos and government intervention.
So, what are all levels of government doing to hold corporates to account to keep our communities alive?
They talk about how important people are.
They talk about how important supporting local communities is.
They talk about how important it is to keep communities safe, liveable, and prosperous.
Isaac Regional Council in the heart of the Bowen and Galilee Basins, is trying to walk the walk.
But we’ve got our hands tied behind our back.
Our residents stare down the barrel of a gun.
The Queensland Government and billion-dollar mining companies stand over us pointing that gun.
They’ve got the power to save our community of Glenden.
But for some reason the State is not walking the walk and industry are silent.
Why is that?
As we face a global power transition, our community is powerless.
Our Council has spent $600,000 in legal fees over the last four years with three positive outcomes.
We wanted to ensure QCoal builds its mining camp and hybrid housing model within the town boundaries of Glenden as it promised.
We won the unwinnable against Goliath in a transparent path of natural justice in the Planning and Environment Court.
Some weeks later I received a phone call from Queensland Minister for Resources, Scott Stewart.
He informed me of his preliminary approval of a 450-bed workforce camp on QCoal’s mining lease.
My heart sank, my blood boiled and all I could feel was the heartache for the residents of Glenden.
Racing through my mind was how can QCoal ignore its promise to be the town’s saviour?
How could it ignore its social licence to breathe new life into the community?
How on earth did we get here?
Instead of putting community first, a feud erupts between the rival miners, and as they trade blows, the community is left beaten and bruised.
The Queensland Government made legislative changes in 2016 to make sure coal mine neighbours Glencore and QCoal co-existed in peace.
In recent events, QCoal has used the Mineral Resources Act to ask the Minister for Resources for another approval, firing a devastating shot at Glenden, yet more than 100 homes owned by Glencore currently stand vacant.
The Minister for Resources cannot allow QCoal to backflip on their approval conditions and put their accommodation out on site.
If the Queensland Government will not hold these corporates to account, what hope do our communities have when they play host to major resource projects?
This should be a straightforward case of transition.
Two companies within the same sector and an established community with infrastructure for the taking. What is really going on here?
Is it bad blood between two mining companies? Well, it should never spill onto our community streets.
If Glenden becomes another ghost town, the transition framework that the governments are trying to achieve, will come back and haunt them if they do not act.
We are Australia’s largest resource region.
We strongly support major resource and infrastructure projects from coal to renewables.
It is in our communities’ DNA.
What is clearly being exposed here is government legislation and approvals that deprive our community of a sustainable future.
It appears the State is potentially stumbling at the first hurdle of the transformation process.
CR ANNE BAKER
MAYOR, ISAAC REGIONAL COUNCIL