March 7th 2008
Greens claim victory on Chalco
With a week to go before the local government elections, Townsville Mayor, Tony Mooney, today withdrew his support for the Chalco Aluminium refinery being built in Townsville with Greens Mayoral candidate, Jenny Stirling claiming a significant victory for the Greens in their campaign to stop the Chinese Aluminium giant coming to Townsville where the refinery is planned to be located upwind of the city and close up against the waters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Lagoon.
Ms Stirling told Magnetic Times, "A few weeks ago, I challenged the Mayoral front runners to state their position on Chalco. Now in a significant shift, both Les Tyrell and Tony Mooney are jumping ship on Chalco citing a mixture of economic, environmental and social concerns as reasons for their lack of support for Chalco."
Mr Mooney said he had written to the Premier Anna Bligh today stating his reasons for withholding support.
"I supported the campaign to secure the project for Townsville only if it meant there would be no environmental impacts for the city," Mr Mooney said.
"The reality of Chalco coming to Townsville is very slim unless the environmental controls can stack up.
"I have seen no credible evidence to support a suitable location for the settling ponds for the red mud spoil or how the product will be safely and efficiently handled through the port.
"Townsville Enterprise has worked very hard to develop a strong case to bring the project to the city to support jobs and economic development.
"They will be disappointed with the withdrawal of support, but my commitment to Townsville as a family capital and a place where our children can enjoy a future comes first.
"Should the outstanding environmental issues remain unresolved and Townsville is no longer an option, our support will swing behind Bowen and their bid to win the project.
"Locating the facility in the North will still have major economic benefits for Townsville without having the refinery right on the city's doorstep.
"There is an opportunity to still be heavily involved in the project through the Economic Triangle which has been set up to coordinate economic development through a partnership between Townsville, Bowen and Mount Isa."
In January on recent visit to Townsville, Prof. Ian Lowe, president of Australian Conservation Council and producer of Australia's first report into the state of the environment in 12 years said, "Townsville was `hitching itself to a dying star' by lobbying to be the preferred site for the Aluminium Corporation of China's (Chalco) proposed Queensland refinery saying. If we're serious about climate change, then absolutely the last thing we should be proposing is to do anywhere is to smelt aluminium using coal fired electricity."
The Member for Townsville, Mike Reynolds,agreed with the comments by the Mayor.
"I agree that there has been no solution put forward so far by Chalco to resolve the environmental questions associated with this development if it were to be located in Townsville.
"Our quality of life and our environment must be our major priority as a community and I commend Councillor Mooney for the strong stand that he has taken on this issue.
"There are too many environmental issues unresolved for Townsville, because of the proposed location at Stuart which is far too close to the residential suburbs of the city," said Mr Reynolds.
The backflip by Mayor Mooney over the issue was, it seems, slow to be digested by his own mooney4mayor website where the leading statement titled: "Jobs and the economy" included, as recently as this afternoon, the lines, "I will continue to work with industry and government to attract major investments to our region. Like the proposed Chalco refinery that will create 10,000 jobs. And the Ocean Terminal that will add so much to our tourism sector." (All references to Chalco have now been removed from the statement - Ed).
As reported in the Townsville Bulletin, Prof Lowe had also commented: "Locating the refinery next to the Great Barrier Reef was a "stupid" proposal. The Reef is already under serious pressure from both climate change and the runoff of nutrients and sediment activity on the mainland. We really should be taking extra special care of the reef at the moment rather than thinking up new ways of making it stressed."
Story: George Hirst
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