People and communities across Queensland value our common rights and wealth. The clean water, rich farmland, unique wildlife and landscapes of Queensland make us all rich, by supporting our businesses and making our state great.
But all is not well. Mining giants and multi-national corporations have so much influence over our government that families and communities are no longer getting a fair go. Food, water, life - it is all at risk from unsafe and inappropriate coal and gas mining.
To bring back the balance, we are launching a new Bill - a Bill launched by the people, for the people, that aims to bring fairness back, reduce the cost of living and protect the fundamentals of life from risky mining practices.
The Bill, titled the People’s Common Rights and Provisions Bill 2014, has been tabled and will be debated in parliament by the people and then voted on in a community referendum.
1. The right to say “no”
Landholders should be given the right under the resources acts to protect their land and keep mining companies out if they choose to. Local Government and Indigenous Traditional Owners should also be given the right to refuse mining projects if they are against the interests of their communities.
2. The right to our livelihoods and good health
Farmers, small business people and tourism operators need to be able to pursue their businesses without interference by mining interests. The Bill will protect clean air and people's quiet enjoyment of their homes by setting limits on pollution and imposing strict set-back limits on mining from homes, and will safeguard the social fabric of rural Queensland by preventing fly-in fly-out workforce arrangements and 24-7 mining operations. It will protect consumers from energy price hikes brought in by profiteering mining and export companies.
3. The right to our common wealth - the land, water and clean air
Productive agricultural lands, important water resources and natural areas will be protected by being made off-limits to mining. Mining companies will put up bonds that can meet the full cost of repairing the damage they do. Government agencies will be properly resourced and will strictly enforce the law. Penalties will be increased for mining companies that breach conditions of their approvals and third parties will be able to enforce the law in court if land or water is damaged.
4. The right to object and have your objections heard
The impacts of mining go beyond the gate and affect the whole community and our common wealth. Community members and groups should have the right to object to mining approvals in courts that have the power to overturn approvals where they find that they were inappropriately given. The public needs to be fully informed of all decision-making regarding mining, including accessible public registers of approvals, applications and documents, and clear legislation that sets out the objective public interest criteria by which decisions are made to approve or reject mining applications.
5. The right to clean politics
The public expects transparent and clean politics. Mining companies and associated parties should be prevented from making political donations. All political donations over $100 should be disclosed and made available for public scrutiny and there must be strict controls on lobbyists to prevent influence-peddling. Politicians and their staff must have a two-year cooling off period before entering private sector roles related to their political jobs. A Code of Conduct should be introduced to regulate the activities of lobbyists to ensure that there is full transparency on the timing and content of all their dealings with members of parliament, political office bearers or public servants. The Crime and Corruption Commission must be empowered and resourced like the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) to root out and expose corruption. There must be strict, enforceable rules governing conflicts of interest in public office.
6. The right to be represented in parliament
The Upper House of the Queensland Government must be restored as a house of review, elected by the people. A second house has a long history in the democratic tradition and is vital to ensure that the power that is delegated to the parliament by the people is being used wisely and fairly. There should be a formal referendum so that the people of Queensland have the opportunity to vote to reinstate their lost House of Parliament.
The Bill that has been tabled in parliament sets out to restore common rights and provisions, and can be viewed here.