Farmers front Labor leaders over Great Artesian Basin carbon capture trial

Beef 2024 – or ‘beef week’ – has been a big success at Rockhampton this year if only that attending Labor leaders like Stephen Miles and Murray Watt have been forced to listen to farmers expressing their concern about the potential dangers of a carbon capture trial proposed for the Great Artesian Basin.

Pauline Hanson, always a strong supporter of Australia’s world-class livestock industries, was also a guest at the event, which showcased the best of Australia’s beef producers. While Australia only accounts for about 4% of global beef production, we are one of the world’s three largest beef exporters, with major markets in Japan, the United States, and South Korea, with a total export value of at least $5 billion per year. It’s an industry that supports thousands of jobs and regional communities.

Some of this industry, along with that of other farmers and many remote communities – relies heavily on the water of the Great Artesian Basin. One of the world’s largest groundwater basins, it covers much of Queensland as well as parts of New South Wales, South Australia, and the Northern Territory and supports production worth almost $13 billion a year. And it’s at risk of contamination from a proposed trial to pump up to 330,000 tonnes of waste carbon dioxide into one of its deeper aquifers.

One Nation responded quickly to farmers’ concerns by successfully moving a Senate inquiry into the three-year trial proposed by a subsidiary of multinational coal-mining giant Glencore. In the meantime, however, farmers took advantage of Beef 2024 this week by fronting Queensland Labor premier Stephen Miles and Federal Labor Agriculture Minister Murray Watt. Both of them have since commented on the issue, with Miles indicating he may not be in favour of the trial: Queensland Government environmental approval (a decision is due on 27 May) is the last hurdle the proposed trial must clear, and Miles has said he doesn’t think the project will get up.

It’s an encouraging development, but one that must be taken with a big grain of salt. Labor’s numerous attacks on Australia’s farming sector have not abated: phasing out live sheep exports, taking more water from irrigators in the Murray-Darling basin, refusing to improve water security by scrapping dam projects, industrial relations laws, and polluting farmland with toxic renewables infrastructure are all policies pursued by Labor and supported by the Greens that are intended to damage our world-leading farming sector. One Nation has a lot of work ahead, undoing this damage, and working to ensure our farmers are protected from further predations by Labor and the Greens.