Doco reveals farmers’ coal fight

ABC TV NEWS - 17.11.2011

An American filmmaker shooting a documentary about the environmental and social impacts of Australia’s coal industry, says farmers have little power to stop mining projects.
Mike O’Connell’s documentary records the impacts of the coal industry in Queensland and New South Wales.

The documentary focuses on plans to build mines on the Bimblebox Nature Reserve near Alpha, east of Rockhampton, and the impact on farmers.

Mr O’Connell says mining companies are in an unfair position of power.
“The industry’s use of influence and power to creative legislative and legal foundations for them to do their work and small landowners struggling to deal with a huge entity,” he said.

Mr O’Connell says mining causes dislocation to farmers who have been on the land for generations and creates a two-speed economy.
“The mining areas that are being developed are basically sort of boom towns,” he said.

“The other side of that is you get this two-speed economy.
“You have people … doing well, the other people in the town their property values go up, maybe their taxes increase, cost of living goes up.
“Some people have basically had to move to a lot of places where there wasn’t a lot of activity.”

Mr O’Connell says he is planning the first screening of the documentary to be held in Australia.
“[The documentary is] entered in many, many film festivals in the United States and I also have an international distributor I worked with on my last film.
“Also community groups screenings and if any television networks want a TV version, we’ll do that.”

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