7 May, 2021
Acland Stage 3 uncertainty revealed as “policy decision”
With the uncertainty over the future of New Acland Stage 3 ongoing, key Government staffer Department of Resources Acting Director-General Mike Kaiser has revealed that the decision to let the legal battle continue was made by the State Government and not the relevant department.
Mr Kaiser was queried about the project by Member for Toowoomba North, Trevor Watts, during a recent meeting of the Queensland Government’s Transport and Resources Committee.
Mr Watts said he couldn’t see any differences between the Acland project and the Olive Downs operation which was approved last year.
He said if the government let the project close, the state would almost a billion dollars in revenue.
“I want to understand why the difference, if it is to do with our geography to Brisbane or if there is some other considerations in the process,” he said.
“It is a serious issue for the whole industry when these games are played.”
Mr Kaiser said he is prevented from commenting on the Acland approvals because it was a policy decision.
“In terms of Acland... that is a policy decision,” he said.
“The government has decided to allow the legal processes to play out in that process and it has been referred from the High Court back to the Land Court.
“We are waiting for the Land Court to further deliberate on that matter as a matter of government policy.
“We have a set of processes which we follow when an application for a mining lease or exploration tenure or anything else is lobbed with us.
“We have a process to follow.
“At any time government can take a policy decision to make some decision about that process. As a department our obligation is to process those applications.”
Shaun Ferris, Deputy Director-General of Georesources who also answered questions in the meeting backed Mr Kaiser saying that Acland doesn’t have a valid Land Court recommendation and can not move forward like Olive Downs.
“In terms of a mining lease decision the Minister must consider a recommendation from the Land Court, so in the case of Olive Downs there was a recommendation, a valid recommendation from the Land Court,” he said.
“Acland does not have a valid Land Court recommendation as it stands today.”
On November 1, 2019, the Court of Appeal ruled against objectors Oakey Coal Action Alliance (OCAA) and let a recommendation from the Land Court to approve New Acland Stage 3 stand.
An Environmental Authority (EA) for the project also remained.
Almost a month after a then valid Land Court decision was before the Queensland Government, OCAA applied for leave to appeal to the High Court.