18 June 2024. Michael Guerin, AgForce CEO.

AgForce, on behalf of our members, industry and community has decided we cannot collectively walk past the prospect of the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) being irreversibly damaged.

Although hope is fading for a breakthrough as we approach seven weeks until our day in the Federal Court, our Federal Minister for the Environment Tanya Plibersek still has the chance and opportunity to not walk past this either.

Our State Premier Steven Miles did not walk past it and has already come through on his promise to ban carbon capture and storage in the GAB by passing legislation through Queensland parliament last week. That legislation bans the preposterous idea of pumping industrial waste into the GAB in Queensland.   

However, sadly and inexplicably, some continue to propose that a state solution completely solves the dilemma we face on how best to protect the GAB for generations to come.

I’ll say it as loudly as I can – the Great Artesian Basin can ONLY be protected properly and fully by FEDERAL LEGISLATION.  That does not take away from the leadership of our Premier, it simply recognises that the GAB sits under four states and territories – not just under Queensland.

This could easily be solved and the GAB given the environmental protections such a national treasure deserves into the future. Minister Plibersek, you have the authority and ample reason to call back for review the February 9 2022 Federal decision that the Glencore proposal was not captured by the provisions of the EPBC Act.

It could be your legacy, something all Australians could acknowledge as a powerful contribution from you in your time as Environment Minister. 

Equally and sadly, you could continue to stand back and leave it to AgForce and the rural community it serves to face hefty financial and emotional costs of seeking judicial review in the Federal Court.

We retain our court dates on August 1 and 2 to represent our community, though we plead for your leadership on this so we can avoid court and protect the GAB by more productive and consultative means.

In its draft Environmental Impact Statement, Glencore/CTSCo controversially and incorrectly stated that the aquifer does not hold any significance as a water resource, nor does it have any Environmental Values.  

Minister – in stating such they put at risk one of the largest freshwater resources in the world. 

Inexplicably the previous Federal Government waived the application through the federal process.  Please don’t walk past again, thereby letting that decision stand, with all the ramifications that brings.