The Australian - Paul Cleary - 7.11.2011
ADVERTISING legend and Liberal Party stalwart Michael Ball thinks Australian politicians have gone mining mad. They’re “mad” because they have allowed mining to encroach on to prime farmland and they’re “insane” to allow coal-seam gas producers to drill into aquifers.
The blue-ribbon conservative who chairs the Bradman Foundation and once sat on the NSW Liberals’ finance community is so angered by the impact of mining development that he has become a radical activist in his community in NSW’s southern highlands.
Potential for coal and gas underneath the green rolling hills of the district has abruptly ended his plans for a peaceful retirement. Now he finds himself having to deal with the rapid encroachment of mining, which has been fanned by a frenzy of licensing by the former state Labor government.
The root of the problem, he says, is that politicians pay little attention to the long-term effects of decisions, especially the impact of mining on water resources.
“One thing people must have is food and water, but we are destroying that for one-off payments from mining,” he says.
“No one has a clue of the geology of aquifers. Once fractured, there’s no possibility for them to be fixed. You can’t mine without fracturing the aquifer.”
He believed that BHP’s mining had fractured Thirlmere Lake, which is now at just 40 per cent of its capacity because it is “leaking”.
“The single most important thing you can have is water,” Mr Ball said.
Last week, he gained first-hand experience of methods used by miners to encroach on to rural land. The 425ha cattle farm he owned with a partner was acquired by Korean steel giant POSCO via an elaborate veil created by law firm Blake Dawson.