29 July 2014 — Environment groups across Australia have today slammed Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s approval of the $16.5 billion Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Infrastructure project in Queensland – to be the largest coal mine in the country – saying the minister’s talk of “strict conditions” is duplicitous.

Minister Hunt said the “absolute strictest of conditions” would be placed on the project, which Greenpeace has said will lead to an additional 128 million tonnes of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. In the 36 conditions to be met, Mr Hunt said there would be a specific focus on protecting the Great Barrier Reef and groundwater supplies.

Glen Klatovsky, spokesman for the Places You Love alliance, which includes organisations like WWF, the Australian Conservation Foundation, The Wilderness Society and Greenpeace, said the minister was saying one thing but at the same time was stripping back environmental regulations and the ability to enforce them.

“Anyone who is serious about protecting the environment wouldn’t be handing any powers to the dysfunctional Queensland Government,” Mr Klatovsky said.

“This is the government who has enabled members of mining industry to write their environmental policy.

“Minister Hunt’s claims of strict conditions fall flat when you read the recent Auditor General’s report into the inability to enforce regulations in Queensland, saying that no one was watching how much damage the mining industry was doing.

Minister Hunt said the project would contribute $2.97 billion to the Queensland economy each year for the next 60 years, and would generate an estimated 2475 construction jobs and a further 3920 jobs during the operations phase.

Mr Klatovsky said the project was a carbon pollution bomb and benefits would mostly accrue to overseas shareholders.

“All Australians will see from this mine is more damage to the Great Barrier Reef and more damage to the underground water from unregulated mining,” he said.