Doomed Planet

Land Court’s Advice: Go Long on Candles

I’m not a lawyer. So, when I see that the Queensland Land Court has made a far-reaching, seemingly bizarre, decision, my first question is ‘what is the Land Court?’. It was established in 2000. It’s brief:

♦ hears appeals against land valuations

♦ determines claims for compensation for the resumption of land

♦ makes recommendations and hears objections to the grant of mining tenures and environmental authorities for resource projects

♦ determines compensation for mining claims and leases and determines compensation and land access conditions for mining exploration and other natural resource activities

♦ hears appeals against local government rating categories

♦ deals with Indigenous land and cultural heritage issues, including the grant of injunctions and approval of cultural heritage management plans.

Apparently its decisions are not binding on the Queensland government and, presumably, they can be appealed. I noticed that the Land Court is down the pecking order from the Supreme Court, the District Court, and the Planning and Environment Court. Might be expensive to run the gauntlet. Just a guess.

The case concerned an application by Clive Palmer to build a Galilee Basin coal mine. Judge Fleur Kingham came down against the application. Ho-hum, except for the reasoning. In part: the coal when exported and burnt overseas would contribute to climate change. In turn, this would adversely affect Queenslanders, including “First Nations” people. A long bow. But, on the other hand, as I’ll suggest below, not necessarily an illogical one.

Reportedly groups called Youth Verdict and Bimblebox Alliance brought the case and were represented by the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) – funded, incidentally, to the tune of $9.8 million over four years by the federal budget. Go figure: taxpayers’ money to wage lawfare against development. Insane times when the very source of our economic wellbeing is under attack from ourselves.

I admit to not being able to keep up with the proliferation of international, governmental, semi-governmental and private-sector organisations fighting to save the planet from CO2 (and destroy our prosperity and civilisation). There’s a million of em, as Jimmy Durante might have said in a bygone age of reason and good sense, when, among other things, people understood that prosperity didn’t arise out of thin air. And when judges applied a dollop of common sense to their decision-making.

There was a case last year. Australian Federal Court judge Mordy Bromberg (hmm, not surprisingly) sided with a group of eight female teenagers and their litigation guardian, an 86-year-old Catholic nun, intent on stopping a particular mining development in New South Wales. They brought a class action arguing that the federal minister for the environment had a common-law duty of care to young people by protecting them from climate change when considering the approval of new mines. Subsequently the full Federal Court threw out Bromberg’s ruling.

Sanity seemingly restored. But, as the Queensland case demonstrates, it was only a temporary reprieve. Emissions reduction is now the law of the land – in both the federal and state spheres. Reluctantly, yet compelled by the zeitgeist, Scott Morrison also agreed to a net zero target by 2050 at COP26 in Glasgow. Thus, it has come about, lefty lawyers and judges have been given solid legal ground to stymie any new fossil-fuel developments. In any event, solid enough for them in their abiding wokeness. Game, set and match.

After all, when all is said and done, climate change is an existential threat. Demur not, it must be so. Governments have gone to extraordinary lengths to pass laws and make international commitments to cut emissions to net zero. And this is quite apart from showing they mean it by blowing up coal-fired powers stations. To boot, voters clearly approve. Dan’s the man, etc. In such circumstances, it makes no sense at all to allow new developments which will increase global emissions. Even I can see the compelling logic of that, never mind a woke judge. Giving environmental go-aheads would be tantamount to acting beyond the law. It would be ultra vires.

Seriously, folks, the interplay of domestic laws, international commitments and present-day courts spell the end of any new coal or gas developments in Australia. De facto, the activists, the Greens and Teals et al, have what they want. Labor is also a winner by escaping the political punishment of banning new developments; that is, by washing its hands of responsibility. It’s the courts, not us.

Of course, life isn’t fair. There are losers. Abstracting from those rich enough not to care, which for the most part includes Teals, lawyers and judges, near enough to twenty-six million of them. Within that twenty-six million will be idealistic placard-carrying callow youths and indigenous save-our-cultural-heritage people. They might eventually learn that prosperity is not costless. Or, maybe not.

Australia is a lucky country. Something might turn up. Lithium, cobalt and other new-age minerals? The realisation of green hydrogen super-power status? On the other hand, luck has a habit of running out when you recklessly throw away your inherent advantages. We shall see. In the meantime, a denouement of sorts is not far away; only a short time before the demolition of another couple of coal-fired power stations. Hang on to your candles.

10 thoughts on “Land Court’s Advice: Go Long on Candles

  • DougD says:

    The Land Court judge took into account in recommending against the coal mining application the Stage 3 emissions – those that would be generated by the overseas buyers burning the Qld coal from the new mine. I thought the UN climate czars had ruled that Stage 3 emissions were only to be counted against the user country in determining whether that country was meeting its Paris Agreement target. But no matter. On my quick skim of this massively long judgment, I could find no discussion of how a buyer of the coal from the proposed Qld mine would react if it wasn’t available. Would China, I think our biggest coal customer and the planet’s biggest carbon emitter, shut down all its factories that needed the Qld coal, sack all their workers and lose all the export income in question? The Land Court didn’t deal with that to me obvious question. I doubt that China’s decision makers are in the grip of the insanity that has our politicians and some of our judges by the throat.

    • ianl says:

      The coal planned as product from Palmer’s proposed Galilee Basin mine was almost all thermal, medium in quality. Virtually no coking coal fraction exists in the seams within the exploration lease that was to form the mining lease.
      China buys very little thermal coal from Aus. It has very large deposits of its’ own. It does lack coking coal deposits.
      There are though quite a number of south-eastern and central Asian countries that do buy thermal coal from Australia. As we have seen, construction of coal-fired generators within this region is increasing at some pace. What is missing from the Q’ld judgement is any sense of where these generators will find their fuel supplies from. Lower quality coals from other countries will increase the CO2 output as more lower quality fuels will be burnt to generate the heat needed to run the boilers.
      Still, Peter Smith agrees with me this time. As has been pointed out for quite a few years now, the political landscape in Australia is altered significantly. I expect Perrottet to lose next year, about the same time as Liddell is finally scrapped. Then, end of story. The EU countries have shown the way with exceeding clarity.

  • Botswana O'Hooligan says:

    Luke 23/34 (forgive them for they know not etc.) doesn’t count with this bunch of ratbags. Had a practical demo of what our future holds when just after perestroika a mob of us were sent to Siberia to live and work. The electricity was hit and miss, mostly miss, the hot water for the city apartment radiators that came from the power station kept in tune with the electricity tho our locale was supposed to have a soft climate of never going much below -30C. Mind you, it does get chilly in an unheated apartment way above -30C. Household water was of course pumped by electricity and when it did run the E-Coli level was about 100 times above the norm so the guts had to be boiled out of water to make it safe to drink for those who drank the stuff. Shop shelves were basically empty except for the odd tastefully displayed tin or jar, and there you have a taste of what will happen here. Born and bred in the bush I wasn’t affected as my colleagues for I sourced a heater stove that ran happily on Jet A-1 fuel, bought stuff in the scant markets via the International language of pointing the finger and cooked on the stovetop in a camp oven type device. My mates wandered around forlornly with gaunt looks and cooked packet noodles in a pot heated by lots and lots of candles. That will happen here and with apologies to Joh, just don’t you worry about that.

    • lbloveday says:

      I was in Siberia well before perestroika, 1979. I thought I was tough, probably was, but not a patch on the workers I met queuing to buy lunch (-50C outside, no heating inside) while they were doing the same on their break – I was shoved out of the way like a rag doll and for the first time retreated and waited until they had their fill.

  • Alice Thermopolis says:

    “Thus, it has come about, lefty lawyers and judges have been given solid legal ground to stymie any new fossil-fuel developments.”
    Indeed. Another one rejected this week: the Barossa offshore gas project run by Santos.
    After twice losing in the Federal Court against Tiwi Islander Dennis Tipakalippa, Santos has surely learnt the hard way how to consult Indigenous groups about its Timor Sea oil and gas project, Barossa.

    “Tipakalippa challenged a decision made by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) to approve an environmental drilling plan submitted by Santos.
    Tipakalippa, who is an elder, senior law man and traditional owner of the Munupi clan, said he was a relevant person who should have been consulted by Santos, but was not.
    He says he and the Munupi clan, as well as other traditional owners of the Tiwi Islands, have “sea country” in the Timor Sea to the north of the Tiwi Islands, extending to and “beyond the (Santos) operational area”, 138 kilometres north of the Tiwi Islands.
    Tipakalippa and other traditional owners asserted that the rights to that sea country “were based upon longstanding spiritual connections as well as traditional hunting and gathering activities in which they and their ancestors have engaged”. (AFR)
    Once upon a time, Australia’s resources were owned by the Crown, but apparently no longer. “Today “longstanding spiritual connections” to “sea country” can get you a slice of the action.
    Yet Santos remains confident it can get gas flowing by the first half of calendar 2025. We’ll see. Good luck, guys.
    If the Voice gets up, expect this kind of tactic to proliferate, as will the number of “sacred sites” and First Nations “corporations” needed to “protect” them from allegedly rapacious mining companies and of course the bogeyman of the age, Climate Change.

  • 27hugo27 says:

    Based on the recent rulings and their reasoning, wouldn’t building a block of flats, or even a single abode on any land constitute a “climate change” crime?

  • pgang says:

    Doesn’t seem any more ridiculous than NSW’s Independent Planning Commission, which was established by a Liberal state government no less, (although these days that’s no surprise at all). The idea was to deflect the politics of planning decisions from the minister at a time when corruption was the name of the game in NSW politics. So the minister handed over his portfolio to an ‘independent statutory body’. You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried. Why NSW still has a planning minister is a mystery.
    Ever since then major project approvals in NSW have become completely opaque and reek of corruption, and the process itself has become an utter farce with final decisions coming down to the toss of a coin (or in reality, whatever back room deal is worked out by the power brokers).
    As for Victorian voters returning Andrews, well, why not? We all know that we are dealing with a democratic system that is merely a cargo cult. Power is all that matters now.

  • Tricone says:

    The Santos decision was ludicrous and suicidal. Bye-bye Australia.

    Barossa is more than twice as far from Tiwi than Tiwi is from Darwin.

    Do house-builders in Darwin have to consult the Munupi clan before digging a hole?

  • Tricone says:

    It would also be interesting to hear from the Australian and international clown posse (Galbraith jr among others) who persuaded the UN mediation team that royalties on gas fields on the Joint Zone agreed with pre-2002 Indonesia should be shared 90/10 with Timor Leste, a precedent that only existed before when countries’ EEZ shared the same continental shelf, like North Sea between Norway & UK, but the Timor Trough means that doesn’t apply in this situation.

    Do they think that a Tiwi veto should extend into these waters, without any say from Timor?
    Sorry, can’t hear you.

    Because Timor’s view is that Australia should concede:,than%20400%20nautical%20miles%20apart.
    I can just see Albanese’s crowd falling for that too.

  • Ceres says:

    The sane amongst us have been rabbiting on for the past decade about the insanity of this scientifically fraudulent, fashionable fixation with CO2 emissions. Ask Joe Blow in the street what ’emissions’ are and he’ll probably say pollution, hasn’t got a clue. He soon will have, when he is mugged by reality and can’t charge his mobile phone because rolling blackouts are a daily reality.
    Nothing but personal experience of no 24 hour reliable coal, gas, hydro will shake these ignoramuses from their stupor and ensure they give the heave ho to all these politicians and their lackeys like the Land court, responsible for these crazy decisions.

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