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Issue #1670      January 28, 2015

War memorial flogged off to New Hope Coal?

Lock the Gate Alliance is calling for the Queensland government and New Hope Coal to come clean about the future of the Acland War Memorial and Tom Doherty Park. The Alliance has called on the government to prevent the public park containing the memorial being sold off to New Hope Coal.

Tom Doherty Park is a state reserve located within the township of Acland. The park was planted by the community and the memorial funded by the community, it is listed on the local heritage register and was central to Acland becoming the first Tidy Towns winner in Queensland.

Almost the entire village of Acland has now been purchased by New Hope Coal, except for the property of one landowner who refuses to sell, and the Park containing the War Memorial.

However, the status of the Park is shrouded in uncertainty. Local community members who have called various government departments this week have received a different answer from every one as to the ownership and current trustees of the Park and War Memorial.

In their Supplementary environmental impact statement for the Acland Stage 3 project, New Hope Coal claim in one section that they have acquired the Park, and in another section that they will become the owners “if the revised project is approved and the relevant mining lease is approved”. New Hope also claims they are the current trustees for the Park.

However, a land title search for the area lists the current owner as the crown and the current trustee as the Toowoomba Regional Council.

“We want to know who owns Tom Doherty Park and the Acland War Memorial,” said Drew Hutton, president of Lock the Gate Alliance.

“Has it been flogged off to New Hope Coal, letting them pilfer yet another irreplaceable part of our national heritage?

“If not, then why is it being offered for purchase? We shouldn’t be selling off our War Memorials and historic parklands to rapacious coal mining corporations.

“We’re calling on the Queensland government to come clean with all the information about the Park, including what, if any, agreements are in place and what, if any, money has changed hands.

“If this important site hasn’t yet been handed over to the coal miners, then we’re calling on the Queensland government to show some common decency and retain the War Memorial and Park in public hands.”

Even though New Hope Coal has been forced to exclude the township of Acland from their current mining expansion, their interest in owning the Park and War Memorial indicates they have future plans for the site, and that it will probably end up in a coal pit.

“The Queensland government is really scraping the bottom of the barrel here - if even our War Memorials aren’t off limits then there is nothing they won’t flog off to appease their mining mates” he said.

The concerns about the future of the War Memorial and Tom Doherty Park follow new revelations last week about donations from New Hope Coal to the Queensland government.

Next article – Labor urged to protect bulk-billing

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