Cowboys back mining in Galilee Basin
ON THE eve of a watershed federal election, the North Queensland Cowboys have taken the unprecedented step of backing the opening of the Galilee Basin to coal mining.
The support - in signing a Townsville Enterprise pledge - comes after a group of regional state Labor MPs raised concern about their government's delay in providing approvals to Adani's Carmichael coal mine.
An urgent meeting was held in Brisbane late yesterday on the same day the Premier announced Cowboys champion Johnathan Thurston would be immortalised by a statue at the new North Queensland stadium.
The North Queensland Cowboys are arguably the region's strongest brand.
It was the words of Thurston in accepting the 2015 NRL premiership trophy - that Townsville deserved a new stadium - which harnessed support for the venture.
The club has now taken the extraordinary step of formally pledging support for the immediate opening of the Galilee Basin.
It has united behind Townsville Enterprise, the Townsville Bulletin and local business leaders. Cowboys CEO Jeff Reibel said the move was about jobs and economic prosperity for North Queensland and not about politics.
He said the club polled its members and partners on the proposed development, receiving a favourable response, before proceeding with signing the pledge.
"North Queensland has a diverse economy," he said.
"The agricultural, mining and tourism sectors are all of vital importance to the region and its economy, and the Galilee Basin development is not a simple issue.
"We recognise that the development is important for future jobs in our region, and also recognise that the interests of different sectors of the economy are not always in alignment.
"We consulted with our stakeholders, including our members and partners, to seek their views on the proposed development. Of those who responded, 89% supported the Galilee Basin development.
"The Cowboys support jobs for North Queenslanders, and we pledge to support ventures that help support North Queensland's future."
Townsville Enterprise chairman Kevin Gill welcomed the Cowboys formal pledge of support.
"The Cowboys are North Queensland's strongest and most recognised brand. To have their support, standing united with us on the immediate opening of the Galilee Basin, is a strong sign that this not about politics, this is about jobs for North Queensland," Mr Gill said.
"The Cowboys membership base represents communities from across the State and the positive response to their consultations sends a clear message of just how important the Galilee Basin is to regional Queensland's future."
Adani Mining CEO Lucas Dow said in Townsville yesterday he was here "more than anything" to thank the region for the support they had received.
He said they were doing everything they possibly could under the early approvals they had received, including establishing a 250-bed camp on the mine site.
"Obviously it's been a bit of a challenging path to this point but the support we've had from places like Townsville and Rockhampton and Mackay and Moranbah and Clermont, Charters Towers and Whitsundays has made all the difference for us in terms of just reinforcing the groundswell of support that exists in regional Queensland for coal mining, the opening of the Galilee and ultimately our project as well," Mr Dow said.
He said they just needed the support of the Queensland Government.