Premier Campbell Newman has thrown his support behind a far north Queensland council’s bid to ban coal seam gas mining in the region.
However, the premier says he isn’t aware of any plans to extract CSG in the Douglas Shire, north of Cairns, or whether the resource even exist in the area.
“I’ll just say I feel exactly the same way as the Douglas Shire Council. There shouldn’t be a CSG industry in that part of the world,” the premier, who is a strong supporter of developing the industry in Queensland, said in Cairns on Wednesday.
“Mind you, I haven’t heard of anybody looking for CSG or even if there’s any there.”
His comments follow media reports the council – which includes the towns of Mossman, Port Douglas and takes in the Daintree area – had this week voted to ban gas mining in the region.
Deputy Mayor Abigail Noli later clarified the council’s stance, saying it had instead voted to publicly state its opposition to CSG mining and support for anti-CSG group Lock the Gate Alliance.
She says the council has no legal powers to stop miners from extracting gas once they receive state government approval.
“This is more of a public awareness campaign,” she said.
Ms Noli says there has been no CSG sites proposed in the area.
However, the council is taking a stand as coal seam gas mining could take place at Mount Mulligan, inland from Cairns, potentially impacting the Douglas Shires’ water supply and rivers, and the Great Barrier Reef.
“A small shire can make a difference,” Ms Noli said, adding she hoped councils across the nation would also pressure those in power to block CSG mining.
“Until this mining practice is proven safe there should be a lid on it.”
A Department of Natural Resources and Mines spokeswoman confirmed there were no current or future CSG mining projects proposed in Douglas Shire.
Environmentalists are concerned CSG could contaminate underground water, leak gases into waterways and the air, and spoil good farming land.
Queensland’s Liberal National Party has argued growing the industry is vital to boosting the state economy and reducing unemployment.