Mt Cotton residents were amazed by a decision made by Jeff Seeney, the LNP’s Minister for Infrastructure and Planning on 20 December 2013.
After saying a few days earlier:
“We (the LNP) believe local governments are the best placed to make planning decisions according to their local circumstances and their communities and we are EMPOWERING them to do so.” (Courier Mail 9 December 2013).
He “called in” the Superquarry development application by the Barro Group Pty Ltd at Mt Cotton. This took the decision making away from Redland City Council, the local government authority responsible for making this planning decision.
Minister Seeney then approved the application which had been opposed by the local community and an overwhelming majority of Redland City councillors. Even councillors who routinely make pro-developer decisions were publicly opposed to the Mt Cotton quarry.
Seeney’s statement, affirming local governments were best placed to make decisions, was made just after:
- two court cases were won by the people and both the Logan City and Redland City Councils (These cases probably cost rate payers and people over $600,000).
- nearly 11,000 submissions and petitioners’ names were lodged as formal objections to the quarry (in fairness there were 26 submissions in favour of the proposal).
- Redland City Council voted to not approve the application (by a margin of 10/1).
- public announcements by senior members of the LNP that they would oppose the quarry.
Vocal minority groups, really?
Jeff Seeney attempted to justify his decision by blaming “vocal minority groups”. He said:
I am not adverse to “calling in” projects I believe are being jeopardised by vocal “minority groups” and I will act on the guidance from elected representatives including council and local MPs. (30 May 2013, Bayside Bulletin)
Here are some of the people and groups who have spoken against the Superquarry in media and correspondence. Many of them would be surprised to find that they have been part of a “vocal minority group”.
- Redland City Councillors as 10 of the 11 voted against the Barro application.(5-6-2013)
- Peter Dowling (LNP Member for Redlands was reported to be against the quarry as reported by The Reporter (24-2-2010).
- Campbell Newman (then Lord Mayor of Brisbane in correspondence a dated 16-8-2007).
- Michael Caltabiano, former President Qld Liberal Party (22-7-06).
- Russell Biddle, former coalition candidate for Redlands (August 2006).
- Peter Collins, former coalition candidate for Springwood (22-7- 2006).
- John Grant MP the LNP Member for Springwood (8-9-2006).
- Andrew Laming MP Member for Bowman (11-10-2006).
- Adrian Schrinner (Liberal member of Brisbane City Council and now Deputy Lord Mayor of Brisbane (23-3-2007).
- Karen Williams now Mayor of Redland City, referring to the twice rejected Superquarry (25-7-2007).
- Graham Able, then Mayor of Logan City (22-9-2006).
- Pam Parker, now Mayor of Logan City
- The Liberal National Party made a pre-election commitment that “if elected to government, will use our power to “call in” this application and cancel it outright”
- Peter Dowling in a letter to Paul Lucas in 2007 which urged him to put the community’s mind at rest, he said “failure to call it in would certainly be a disappointment and I think the community would feel let down”. (Bayside Bulletin 27-11-07).
Continuing community action
The community has fought for years to protect residents’ lifestyles and native wildlife including the 29 koalas resident on the Barro Quarry site. Efforts have included:
- “No Superquarry” website
- No Mt Cotton Superquarry Facebook page
- A song …Stop Mt Cotton Superquarry and
- A poem on Redlands 2030
The decision to approve the superquarry was discussed at recent public hearings by the Senate Committee according to the Redland City Bulletin.
What will the Labor Government do?
Now the community is watching to see if the Labor Party will keep its election commitments which include a return to “Integrity and accountability“.
The local community wants to see a public inquiry into the process for approving the superquarry…a “due diligence” review to make sure all information was duly considered, due process followed and that all information used to approve the application was on the public record.
Long term community advocate Luke Daglish said recently:
We have all the ammunition for such an inquiry and we are all ready to go. We have kept media reports and the documentary evidence that supports our assertions.