While the Queensland Government is busy tilting at windmills and pouring money into “green” energy, it is failing to take advantage of a gold mine in royalties right under its nose. Mount Morgan’s gold mine could pull Queensland and Australia out of debt for a third time as the State looks for a post-COVID economic recovery.

Labor’s Minister for Mines and Energy yesterday found the time to spruik the 15 ongoing jobs to come from a billion dollar wind farm investment, but he couldn’t find the time for a meeting about Mount Morgan. I have been urgently seeking State Government support for fixing the environmental hangover from previous mines while kickstarting a new era for Mount Morgan and Queensland.

Private enterprise is already prepared to stump up $50 million for the first stage of fixing environmental issues caused by past mining practices and we desperately need the State Government to match that commitment. In the process of restarting production of gold in one of the most historic mines in Australia, the current lease-holders can fix a looming environmental disaster. The Government’s approach to handling the toxic waste to date has only served to concentrate it and kick the can down the road. It really is incumbent on the government to finally fix the problem caused by the very mining practices that dragged Queensland out of debt in the past. As yet, the Minister for Mining in Queensland has not agreed to a meeting to discuss the proposal.

Re-opening the mine site for processing gold would create direct and indirect jobs in the town but it would also be a tremendous boost to tourism in the region and across Queensland. There is a big difference between visiting an historic gold mine and visiting an historic gold mine that is still in operation. Mount Morgan has so much to offer tourists already but not many people are aware of the history and the important role the town has played in creating the country we see today. It’s fair to say Mount Morgan could become a key destination for tourism in Queensland but it can’t happen if the State Government doesn’t realise the potential.

The economic benefits for the State could be substantial and that was exactly what is needed in a post-COVID economy. COVID-19 has dealt a devastating blow to our economy and if we are going to get back on track we need to focus on the things that will KickStart Queensland with new and expanding industry and job creation wherever possible. The Queensland Government stands to gain an enormous amount from royalties they will receive from every ounce of gold coming out of the mine and there is a lot of gold left in Mount Morgan.

Mount Morgan residents face a long wait before the Burnett Highway fully reopens. The highway at the entrance to Mount Morgan has been partially closed since heavy rain caused a rockslide in March this year, leading to long delays and plenty of frustration. It’s incredibly disappointing it has already been two months without anything happening to fix the problem. If this was a partial closure of George Street in Brisbane, it would have been fixed long ago.
The Department of Transport and Main Roads has at least confirmed a survey and detailed design for the repair work has now been completed. The department is now looking for a contractor to carry out the works, which is encouraging. However, while construction work will commence by July, it is not expected to be completed until late this year.
I have previously written to the Minister requesting an urgent fix for this problem, given the impact on locals and local industry. This is a key highway for a number of industries and the extended time delays is a major inconvenience for locals making trips into Rockhampton.
The boulder (about the size of a small car) that came to rest beside the road has been removed and technical experts have inspected the site. As a result of the inspection, the department imposed a single lane restriction with a reduced speed limit. At this stage, those restrictions will remain in place until the work is completed. TMR has rejected a proposed widening of the highway at the site to allow two-way traffic on the basis of cost and the time it would take to build.

I continue to advocate for urgency on a full opening of the highway. It’s not just slowing down trucks and buses going about their business but it’s slowing down everyday life and worker commutes. Workers are finding themselves sitting in the dark early in the morning, with no traffic around, waiting for a traffic light to change.