Mining companies should forgo some their profits to help cover the cost of recovering from bushfires that continue to devastate Queensland, an elected representative has said.
Greens State MP Michael Berkman has proposed coal and gas producers should fork out $890 million over three years to help rebuild homes have been flattened, revive charred pastoral land and provide financial aid to bushfire affected communities.
This would involve a $1 increase to the existing state royalty premium for each tonne of coal and every gigajoule of gas produced. Proceeds are promised to help hire 1400 full time firefighters, 200 indigenous rangers and a permanent aerial firefighting fleet to prepare for bigger and more frequent fires.
‘Pay their fair share’
Berkman blamed the bushfires on climate change, which he suggested the industry was partly responsible for, and proponents should pay for damage caused.
“Big fossil fuel corporations are making billions of dollars pumping out dangerous carbon pollution, driving global warming and making our fire seasons longer and more destructive,” he said according to the Australian Associated Press. “So it’s only right they pay their fair share to deal with the consequences.”
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Activists should be punished
However, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) fired back saying the government should find more effective ways to punish anti mining activists who allegedly used human chains, assault and other forms of civil disobedience to disrupt the October International Mining and Resources Conference.
“When an essentially boring industry conference becomes a hot spot for angry activists it’s a sign of just how far our public discourse has strayed from reality,” CFMEU mining and energy division general president Tony Maher told the Sydney Institute. “Perhaps, instead of carting protesters down to the police station an appropriate punishment would have been to make them sit through a session or two on increasing minerals processing performance through integrated mine to port operations and material tracking.”
Maher believes an engineer delivering a powerpoint presentation is more than enough to “strike fear into anyone’s heart” and teach them a valuable lesson.
“You never know, the protesters might have learnt a thing or two about the industry they are trying to shut down,” he said.