Senator Matthew Canavan.
Senator Matthew Canavan. Allan Reinikka ROK060815acanavan

Senator attacks environmental groups

ENVIRONMENTAL groups that challenge mining companies in the courts are abusing the legal system. That is a message Rockhampton-based Federal LNP Senator Matt Canavan had when he spoke at a Queensland Media Club lunch in Brisbane on Wednesday.

The Northern Australia and Resources Minister's address was about opening up the potential of northern Australia and he said there was no reason why regional centres such as Mackay and Rockhampton could not grow.

During his speech he attacked environmental groups that have pursued court challenges against mining companies as a delay tactic and to stop jobs and development in Queensland.

He spoke about how a group of environmental activists had met in 2011 to discuss stopping a coal export boom and that pursuing legal challenges were a key part of the campaign.

"This is not about winning the court cases, it is not about protecting the environment, it's about creating breathing space.”

He said this "breathing space” would allow the groups to get more organised to try to swing public opinion more in their way and to disrupt and delay the investments.

He said this was an abuse of the legal system, and that this was clear in the number of court cases environmental groups had lost.

Sen Canavan said that when he was a kid, Queensland was "getting ahead” and was a magnet to the rest of the country, with residents thousands of residents wanting to move to the state.

But now it was different.

He said only 7000 Australians moved to Queensland in the last full year of reported figures.

"I think we've got to change that,” he said.

"We've got to get back to attracting people and the way to do that is to get behind projects, get behind developments.”

He said developments would help grow regional cities including Cairns, Mackay, Rockhampton Townsville.

"There's no reason why these places can't be bigger and better,” he said.