Alan Jones steps on the gas at Gunnedah forum
Alan Jones, the son of a Queensland farmer, opened the forum with stories of landholders throughout the Darling Downs in Queensland and the local Liverpool Plains who had had problems with powerful mining companies such as Eastern Star Gas, and he claimed incidents of harrassment, intimidation and manipulation by mining companies over local landowners.
He warned farmers and landowners they had to stand up to the mining industry.
“My old man once said, ‘Farmers can face anything’, but farmers have never faced anything like this,” Mr Jones said.
The forum came in the wake of comments by Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd last month that global food production would need to increase by 70 per cent by 2050 to feed an expected population of 9.3 billion.
Mr Jones said the irony of the Rudd speech was that it was presented in Brisbane, when Queensland had lost so much prime agricultural land to mining.
He referred to the invasion of mining as the “raping and plundering” of prime land.
Doctor Pauline Roberts likened polluting mining companies to the tobacco industry 60 years ago, when the first studies came out attributing the smoking of cigarettes to lung cancer.
Dr Roberts said the response by the government to the tobacco problem then was to tax the product, and she asked the audience if this sounded familiar to the carbon tax debate.
US studies clearly showed that people living in towns near coal mines had an increased risk of a range of diseases, she said.
The lack of monitoring of the air in the Hunter Valley was also allowing companies to get away with pollution, she said.
She encouraged people to continue to protest and rally against mining.
“Your activism is the only thing that will stop this madness,” Dr Roberts said.