Era of the ‘blackboot’ brigade
Lindsay Tyson’s great-grandfather Henry Friend Senior was the first to graze the 29,900ha property “Springwood” on the Meteor Creek, south of Emerald, in the mid 1890s and today he and wife Avriel run about 6000 head of cattle there.
For over 100 years life has gone on pretty much as it always has and the couple assumed that would continue as their children and grandchildren took over from them.
“We were just living a quiet life as graziers. You have your dramas with seasons and so on, but they are things we understand,” says Mr Tyson, 61.
What they don’t understand is how an international mining company based in a place they’ve never heard of called Zug 16,000km away in Switzerland can suddenly move in and turn a century of family history upside down, along with their hopes and plans.
“It makes you feel powerless. There’s an elephant charging through the fence and you can do nothing to stop it,” says Mr Tyson.
It’s typical of the “David and Goliath” battles that are overwhelming the Environmental Defenders Office Queensland, a non-profit legal service providing advice and representation to individuals and community groups. Their work has traditionally focused on the impacts of urban and tourism developments, but that all started to change a year ago.
EDO principal solicitor Jo-Anne Bragg says: “We have two lawyers. We need 20. I’m basically looking at a nightmare now and it’s only going to get worse as more and more people need help and we have to turn them away.”
The EDO, conservationists and agricultural groups all complain that farmers’ and other land-owners’ rights and environmental concerns are being steamrolled in the State Government’s rush to facilitate growth of the resources industry.
“What the miners and gas companies want, they get,” says Mackay Conservation Group’s Dr Patricia Julien. “No mine has ever been refused on environmental grounds.”
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