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Issue #1792      August 30, 2017

Dingo

On the great scare campaign over terrorism in Australia, in context: Professor Greg Austin of NSW University has noted that more Australians have died at the hands of the police in ten years – 50 between 2006-2015 – than from terror attacks in Australia during past 20 years. In the catch-all definition of terrorism, three people have died: two victims of the Martin Place siege in Sydney, and the NSW Police accountant shot dead at the Police Centre in Parramatta. Between 2003 and 2012 there were 2,617 homicides and 190 accidental gun deaths. More than 130 workers in rural Australia died from falls from vehicles, 206 from electrocution, 1,700 Indigenous Australians died as a result of diabetes.

The Queensland government’s proposed amendments to the Minerals and Energy Act will not protect landholders from the environmental impacts of gas mining because they do not mandate that gas companies hold insurance designed to protect farmers and their businesses, according to Lock the Gate Alliance. “The proposed amendments put up by the Queensland the government miss the point when it comes to protecting landholder interests,” said Lock the Gate spokesperson Phil Laird. “The only real way to protect farmers’ interests is to require that gas companies hold insurance. They need cover for physical damage to property, both above and below ground; loss of accreditation; contamination of livestock and interruption to or contamination of surface and groundwater. Without comprehensive environmental insurance, landholders will still be severely impacted in the event of impacts to ground and surface water from the toxic chemicals used in fracking.” He said that none of these amendments seriously address protecting landholder interests and that there have been repeated attempts to engage the Minister in a discussion about the need to mandate gas companies hold the necessary insurance to protect landholders and the environment. “The Minister has not engaged with Lock the Gate on this issue or made a serious attempt to consider mandating insurance. Mandating that gas companies hold the necessary insurance to cover these impacts is a simple, efficient and effective way of protecting landholders. Yet the government has resisted implementing this solution. Yet again the Palaszczuk government has backed the resources sector over the interests of farmers and rural residents. In the absence of the Minister’s willingness to engage, we will be making strong representations to the Committee scrutinising these amendments on behalf of our rural members and Queensland landholders more broadly. If the government won’t stick up for farmers, Lock the Gate will.”

The Australian Medical Association says that the recently released National Drug Strategy, which lays out the federal government’s prevention and minimisation of drug harm over the next ten years, places to much emphasis on the “ice epidemic”. The AMA points out that the greatest harm from substance abuse comes from alcohol and tobacco addiction. The AMA also calls for underlying factors to be addressed, including social isolation, exclusion and poverty.

Next article – Region Briefs

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