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Articles from Chinchilla and Surrounds

Reality of a rural town and mining

Feb. 24, 2014, 4 a.m.

I have been following with great interest, the push from the unconventional gas industry to set up in your region.

I reside in Chinchilla, Queensland, heartland of coal seam  gas operations and can offer an insight into the reality of the transformation of a rural town into a mining town.

The first crisis to hit is the housing situation, when sky-rocketing rents force out low-income renters (by low income, I mean under $1500 per week).

  Our pensioners, retirees, sole parents, single income families and non-industry workers left the town in droves. Some, who could not afford to relocate, were reduced to camping at the showground.  Living in a tent with young children, through a chilly winter, was something previously unseen in this town.

The demand for new and investment housing resulted in pop-up housing estates constructed before sufficient infrastructure, such as storm water drainage, was in place.

 Presto – flooding now an issue in previously unaffected areas. 

A large number of these new houses developed slab cracks and structural damage within two years – an indication of how standards slip when big bucks are involved.

The next dilemma is the phenomenal increase in traffic.  Streams of heavy vehicles thundering through town starting around 4.30am and continuing  well into the night. Seven days a week.   

Say goodbye to parking in proximity to your shops and businesses too.

Expect a tragically huge increase in road fatalities, trauma and crash rate.  Industry workers are unfamiliar with your country roads and are often tired from working very long days and extended rosters.

Apart form your road network being decimated by the industrial traffic load, your roadsides will resemble a rubbish tip.  

Tourism will take a hit as accommodation becomes scarce and your natural attractions are outnumbered by industrial sites.

Next up, is the crime rate. Watch it rise with assaults, alcohol and drug offences, thefts and traffic incidents that will stretch police, ambulance and hospital resources.

Bulk billing doctors (even for us pensioners) are now just a memory, as the waiting rooms filled with “fluoros” needing the requisite “medicals” for employment. 

Oh, and be prepared for the spike in sexually transmitted diseases.

These are just a few of the social issues that have arisen.

The environmental and other health impacts, on their own, are extremely alarming and already evident in the Queensland gas fields.

Don’t expect the “vested interests” to disclose this.  Google is your friend and you will easily find anecdotes and footage from those at the “front line” – most notably from the Tara gas fields.

 The line that Australia has a domestic supply crisis is total rubbish. The bottom line is that our country is being pillaged by foreign profiteers so that China can have electricity for a short period of time.

That Australians should sacrifice precious water, quality farmland, clean air and the health of our citizens for this industry, is totally unacceptable, and ensuing generations will curse our complacency, should we say yes to this.

It is already too late for Queensland – I can only urge those next in the firing line to voice a resounding “NO!” to this industry. 

It may come as a surprise to you but, you do have the power to say no.

Karen Auty

 Chinchilla, QLD