by Robert J Lee in Cairns
Far North Queensland continues to languish under the state LNP Government which this week, in effect, canned a $1.2 billion bauxite mine east of Weipa losing 1700 long term jobs, many of them indigenous, and millions of dollars in royalties to the economy of the State.
The long-awaited and newly released draft Cape York Regional Plan does not allow for mining in the Wenlock Basin area, the site of the proposed open cut mine.
The State LNP Member for Cook and former solicitor David Kempton, has backed the government decision, much to the detriment of the Mapoon Aboriginal Council which had invested considerable time and money over the past four years assisting mine proponent Cape Alumina with its environmental work and other studies.
The Federal Liberal Member for Leichardt Warren Entsch has been highly critical of the government for siding with Terri Irwin of Australian Zoo in stopping the mine.
Terri Irwin, wife of the late wildlife entrepreneur Steve Irwin, has campaigned long and hard against Cape Alumina even though she was gifted the lease on Bertiehaugh pastoral holding more than 20 years after the mining tenement had been granted.
A part of the mine lease covers Bertiehaugh station but as the company has stated it had no intention to mine anywhere near the Wenlock River, in fact Mr Entsch pointed out, the actual mining area is at least 40 klms distant from the river.
Halting such a well planned development was like “Wild rivers on steroids” Mr Entsch was quoted by the Cairns Post.
“It’s one(decision) I would expect from the previous (Labor) Government.
“I think it is absolutely ridiculous and I will be raising concerns to the Premier,” Mr Entsch said.
The economy of Cape York Peninsula is almost entirely dependent on government welfare or ‘sit down’ money and it seems this social entrapment is set to continue.
Mr Kempton, reportedly a former member of the Labor Party, told the Cairns Post the new plan struck the right balance between conservation and providing economic opportunities for Cape York communities.
Just what economic opportunities it will generate are unclear.
He seems to think the creation of another 50 wildlife rangers is somehow going to feed the families of the many hundreds of local inhabitants who have missed out on a mining job.
Kempton, known colloquially as the ‘phantom’ has raved on about creating economic opportunities and getting people off welfare on the Peninsula since elected.
In his former capacity as a Cooktown solicitor he worked for a decade or more for various aboriginal community groups in their bid for land rights and supported moves to provide them social justice, which in some cases was legitimate.
In his latest expose, compliments of the Sunday mail newspaper, Kempton’s appointment of a $2000 a day consultant from Melbourne has been questioned by his electorate and aboriginal groups who are constantly told there is no government money available for nearly every proposal they have put forward.
The consultant is said to have earned some $700,000 since being appointed early last year.
What duties Annalise Jennings the consultant performs seem much less concise.
The Sunday Mail mentions her activities aside from being Mr Kempton’s friend, as a “… business adviser, life coach and spiritual sage.”
In what capacity Ms Jennings is connected to indigenous groups or what function she undertakes on the Peninsula is unknown.
Cairns News has made inquiries with one of the largest land claim groups on the Peninsula but a spokesman said he had never heard of her or her work.