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$896M coal expansion will be approved no matter what says Frecklington

Deb Frecklington at New Acland Coal Mine
State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington (C) visits New Acland Coal Mine.

A Liberal National Party (LNP) leader will fast-track an $896 million mine expansion in the Darling Downs, if her party forms the next Queensland Government.

State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington promised anti-mining lawsuits would not stop her, as premier, from prioritising final approval for New Hope Group’s (NHG’s) New Acland Coal Expansion, 53km northwest of Toowoomba.

‘No reason’

“The issue that is before the High Court is on a legal technicality, it has got absolutely nothing to do with the environment,” she said according to News Limited.

“There is no reason why [incumbent Premier] Annastacia Palaszczuk should not have approved this mine. She has completely hoodwinked Queenslanders … and that is exactly why I am happy to stand here today and say a future LNP government will approve this mine.”

196 jobs lost

The remarks came after Oakey Coal Action Alliance (OCAA) repeatedly used the judicial system to postpone the project for more than 12 years.

Many years of delays and dwindling coal production have taken a toll, with 14 per cent of the existing workforce of 150 already been made redundant. The remaining 150+ employees will work nine days a fortnight and receive a pay cut ranging between 10 and 30 per cent. This came following another 100 layoffs at the mine site that were announced back in September 2019.

Some of the most noteworthy departures included CEO Shane Stephan and more recently CFO Matthew Busch. They were replaced by former Yancoal Australia CEO Reinhold Schmidt and acting CFO Rob Bishop respectively.

“Labor has moved the goal posts on major projects, costing jobs,” Frecklington said on Facebook.

“Already 196 workers have lost their jobs because Annastacia Palaszczuk and Labor [still] will not approve this project … Queensland’s unemployment rate is worse than Victoria, even though Victoria has been on stage-four lockdown.”

Activists face liquidation

The proponent is now trying to liquidate OCAA because the activists are unable to pay for nearly $737,000 in unpaid legal expenses that the Queensland Court of Appeal awarded back in 2019.

Once the High Court has handed down its latest ruling, the proponent will theoretically be cleared to continue dissolving OCAA.

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Weak leadership blamed for redundancies at $896M coal project.

Frecklington believes the project should be prioritised to allow 700 jobs to be created.

“The LNP will, as a priority, approve New Acland Stage 3 because we back the thousands of local jobs this project will bring and the $7 billion it will generate into the economy,” she said on Twitter. “When Queensland is building, Queensland is working.”

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