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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Premier of Queensland
    The Honourable Peter Beattie

    GOVERNMENT ACTS ON CONCERNS ABOUT WILD RIVERS ACT

    Premier of Queensland
    The Honourable Peter Beattie

    Monday, July 24, 2006

    GOVERNMENT ACTS ON CONCERNS ABOUT WILD RIVERS ACT

    Six of the State’s most pristine rivers will be protected by the Queensland Government’s Wild Rivers legislation, the Premier announced today.

    Mr Beattie said intensive discussions between the Government, environmentalists, indigenous land holders, miners and graziers had resulted in a balanced approach to the protection of the rivers, while allowing communities to continue to prosper.

    “I want to thank everyone who has taken part in the negotiations, their hard work has produced a result which will balance vital environmental protections with a sensible approach to the needs of the communities living along and nearby the rivers,” Mr Beattie said.

    “The Gregory, Settlement, Fraser*, Hinchinbrook*, Staaten and Morning Inlet will now be declared as wild rivers.

    “Buffer zones two kilometres wide (High Preservation Areas) will be established along the river systems, protecting them from major development,” the Premier said.

    “Mining companies had expressed concern about the impact of the declarations on their industry.

    “Following the negotiations a set of clearly defined areas has now been agreed upon giving miners working within a declared Wild River catchment, clarity about where they can operate.

    “In practical terms that means that the North West Mining Province will continue creating jobs and wealth for all of Queensland,” Mr Beattie said.

    Any exploration in the ‘High Preservation Areas’ will be limited to low impact activities and in the stream beds and banks only limited hand sampling will be allowed. Should a significant minerals deposit be found, the miners would have to seek Ministerial approval and would be required to demonstrate the importance of the deposit and prove that they could extract it without harming the river system.

    Watercourses running off the main river may be nominated in a second category – ‘Preservation Area’. In these areas normal procedures relating to mining lease applications will apply except that mining will not be permitted within 100 m of a nominated water course – other than for projects of ‘state significance’ that have been endorsed by the Premier.

    Other changes to the legislation will give local indigenous communities, graziers and local councils greater security, they include:

    • fodder crops can be established in Preservation Areas without assessment
    • essential infrastructure will be allowed in High Preservation Areas to meet essential community needs
    • allowing clearing of regrowth on existing cropped areas in High Preservation Areas
    • allowing the extraction of sand and gravel from rivers for essential community needs

    Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Water Henry Palaszczuk said that graziers could now be sure that the declaration of a Wild River in their area will not impact on their day to day business.

    “Their operations will be unaffected by these measures,” Mr Palaszczuk said.

    “This balanced approach will also assist indigenous communities working to increase jobs and investment in their area without affecting their existing native title rights.

    “The Cape York Land Council/Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation has expressed concern that the legislation could significantly affect indigenous communities on Cape York.

    “The Queensland Government has agreed to the deferral of further nominations in Cape York to allow for more consultation.

    “Cabinet has also agreed that to prevent any ‘panic development’ along rivers in Cape York all new water resource development will be put on hold until the rivers are declared.

    “Nominations may start again at a time to be decided by the Premier and myself,” Mr Palaszczuk said.

    * As Fraser and HinchinbrookIslands are National Parks they will not be subject to mining exploration.

    Media contact: Premier’s Office – 3224 4500