Senator Matthew Canavan in Rockhampton on Friday
Senator Matthew Canavan in Rockhampton on Friday Christine

Canavan queries 'secret' amendments to mine rehab laws

SENATOR Matt Canavan says this week has been the greatest for North Queensland since the Cowboys won the premiership, but he says amendments to the proposed mine rehabilitation bill had been secretly negotiated by Treasurer Jackie Trad with the potential to make some mines insolvent overnight.

Mr Canavan said strengthening Queensland's rehabilitation laws had his support as well as broad industry support to bring them up to best practice, but the amendments were more about hurting the mining sector than helping the environment.

"What is concerning is that after the bill has gone through parliamentary scrutiny and through the public committee processes, at the eleventh hour we're seeing Jackie Trad insert amendments into this bill that seem to be drafted by Lock the Gate and green extremist groups," he said.

The bill, which would be applied retrospectively, is to be considered by the Queensland Government next week and Mr Canavan said the Queensland Resources Council and large mining companies had been briefed on the amendments.

He said he also spoke with Ms Trad in Mt Isa on Thursday to raise his concerns.

He would not reveal details of the conversation but said some of the requirements were impossible to meet and would put thousands of jobs at risk.

"Of particular concern is that voids, including those previously approved under a different regime, would have to be completely filled in," he said.

"In some circumstances that is a complete impossibility because you extract more from beneath and geotechnically you don't have the same amount of surface and rocks to put back in as you did before.

"That particular proposal seems more about hurting the prospects of mining and killing off opportunities than it is realistically about making sure we have appropriate balance between environmental protection and job creation.

"We need sensible, reasonable laws that regulate mining activities and sustain jobs.

"The industry is not debating or arguing that the laws could be improved and should be strengthened ... at the very least the Queensland Government should come clean and show us these amendments."

"But industry is getting very concerned that these ideas have persisted long through discussions where normally such kind of silly ideas would have knocked off before we got this far."

Ms Trad has been contacted for comment.