I’m delighted—absolutely tickled pink—to be standing in the Chamber today talking about the future of New Acland Mine with a smile on my face. It’s fantastic news. You see, one week ago the state Labor government finally bowed to reason and granted the necessary mining approvals for New Acland’s stage 3 expansion to go ahead, a fantastic result. It’s brilliant to see miners being transitioned back into their jobs in the seat of Groom. Now, there’s one caveat: we do still need to wait for the associated water licence to come through. But, given that this mine has met every test that’s been put to it over a prolonged period, over 15 years, I’m absolutely confident that New Hope Group’s predictions that this mine will be back up and running at the start of next year will come through. That 15-year battle we saw cost hundreds of local workers their jobs as redundancies ran out through the workforce there. So it’s fantastic to finally have a pathway of hope in front of us.
When I was doorknocking through Oakey, the message was loud and clear: ‘Great news. Where do I sign up?’ People want jobs and people tell the stories of how New Hope has supported the local community and done so much. They’re a great community asset. It’s a feeling shared on the high street. I caught up with a great country pie shop owner, Vicki Reeves—I bought a wonderful cottage pie from Vicki’s pie shop, the best in Groom— and we were talking about just how important it is for the mine to be coming back to life. We’ve got a wonderful Army base out there and we’ve got meatworks out there, but the mine has been essential to Oakey and to Acland for so long. It’s absolutely brilliant to have it back. Hers is just one of many businesses in Groom that will receive a much-needed boost from this project going ahead. It’s estimated that New Acland will generate $1 billion for our local economy over the next 10 to 15 years. That’s around 10 per cent of our gross regional product. This is a huge investment.
But it’s not just about the businesses. Let’s talk about the workers: workers who live in Oakey, in Goombungee, in Highfields; workers who will enrol their kids in the local schools and sporting clubs; workers who will put a little bit of money back into their farms or their mortgages. According to New Hope Group, there will be 400 longterm jobs on the mine, and 600 short term in the ramp-up. This is fantastic. And, while, rightly, we’ll be aiming to bring back the people who lost their jobs through those redundancies, there are still going to be hundreds of new jobs out there for other people. So this is not just great news for Oakey; this is great news for Queensland and Australia. If you want a job in the coalmining industry, come to Oakey. There are fantastic opportunities waiting there for you. There’s no better place to live, work and raise a family.
This is the start of a whole new decade of investment for Oakey. It’s a town that’s had a really tough last couple of years, with the redundancies, with PFAS issues. But here we are now with a great announcement. We’re so close. I call on the Queensland government to commit to their decision, grant the water licences and let Oakey get back to business.
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