Hinchinbrook MP, Andrew Cripps, has moved to test the restrictions on landowners accessing water resources on Townsville’s Northern Beaches, saying the community could not be denied development opportunities indefinitely, while waiting for the nickel refinery to restart.
Mr Cripps today asked the State Development, Natural Resources and Mines Minister, Anthony Lynham, a Question on Notice about the provisions in the Queensland Nickel Agreement Act which restricted public access to water resources on Townsville’s Northern Beaches.
“These provisions have been in place since the refinery commenced operations in the 1970s and while long term residents had their access to water resources grandfathered at that time, there are many landholders in the area whose access is restricted” said Mr Cripps.
“Of course, I wish Clive Palmer’s reckless and irresponsible management of Queensland Nickel had not resulted in 800 lost jobs and the refinery shutting down, but I fear the longer Clive Palmer remains the owner of that refinery, the more unlikely it is ever to re-start” he said.
“If we can’t have jobs at the refinery, as the local MP, I’ve got to investigate alternative economic development and job creation opportunities on Townsville’s Northern Beaches, so I have moved to test the current restrictions on access to the water resources in that area”.
“Whether it is new residential development, agriculture, or other industrial projects, the current restrictions on accessing water resources under the Queensland Nickel Agreement Act means alternative economic opportunities will be limited – that situation can’t go on forever”.
Mr Cripps said his Question on Notice to Minister Lynham sought to clarify if the provisions in the Act which reserved water resources to the nickel refinery, until such time as it ceased operations, meant that other water users in the area could now apply for a water entitlement.
“The legislation does not provide a definition of what constitutes a cessation of operations at the Yabulu Nickel Refinery, so I have placed a Question on Notice to the Minister in order to clarify this matter and sort out what is happening with the water resources in this area”.
“I would be delighted if the Yabulu Nickel Refinery re-commenced operations and the hundreds of jobs that were lost as a result of its closure were reinstated – but the current likelihood of that occurring appears to be remote and I need to consider that it may never happen”.
Mr Cripps said the Townsville City Council planning scheme identified Townsville’s Northern Beaches as a future residential growth, but the opportunity for the development of land was limited by the water resources restrictions in the Queensland Nickel Agreement Act.