Farmers say a coal railway line on their properties will damage their livelihood, but the premier assures them it’s for the good of all Queenslanders.
Landholders affected by the proposed new line between the Galilee Basin and Abbot Point Port have given evidence in a parliamentary inquiry in Brisbane, pleading with the government to give them fair compensation for land acquisition.
Their properties have been earmarked State Development Areas (SDA) under the government’s deal with Indian firm Adani to build infrastructure that will enable the transport of more than 100 million tonnes of coal per year.
The validity of these SDAs form the focus of the inquiry.
Cattle farmer Andrew Rea was one of the first to give evidence on Wednesday, saying the railway will devalue his property and cause problems with his cattle grazing business.
He called on the government to remove the SDA and allow him to negotiate compensation on proper commercial terms.
“How can I negotiate with somebody on commercial terms when they’ve got a gun to my head?” he told AAP on Wednesday.
“They can question me until the cows come home to get my point across, but I want to be compensated fairly.
“I’m not anti-mining, I’m not anti-development, I’m not anti-progress, but I am anti-the landholders copping the brunt of it.”
Shontae Moran, who runs cattle northeast of Clermont and represents landholder group, Corridor to Coast, said the SDAs failed to strike the right balance between the interests of overseas mining companies and farmers.
“This SDA is a land grab by the Queensland government to lay an easy path for the big coal mining companies,” she told the inquiry.
However, Premier Campbell Newman said the land acquisition was essential for the state’s prosperity.
“Everybody knows that it has been a practice for as long as there’s been a State of Queensland and a Commonwealth of Australia for land to be resumed for purposes that are in the long-term public interest, that’s always occurred,” he said.
“At the end of the day people will be paid appropriate compensation, fair compensation, and more importantly the people of Queensland will get thousands of new jobs created and over many, many years billions of dollars worth of royalties which will build this state.”