PASSIONATE DEFENCE: Ellen Roberts (right) with protestors Christopher Dunn (front) and Gordon Johnson protesting against plans to dump dredged material at Abbot Point.
PASSIONATE DEFENCE: Ellen Roberts (right) with protestors Christopher Dunn (front) and Gordon Johnson protesting against plans to dump dredged material at Abbot Point. Lee Constable

What’s next for Adani? Q and A with Conservation Group

WHEN the Federal Court knocked back approval of Carmichael mine, it was a win for the Mackay Conservation Group.

But group co-ordinator Ellen Roberts isn't convinced it will be the end to Adani's proposed $16.5 billion mine.

How long have you been involved with the Mackay Conservation Group?

The group has been going for 30 years, and I've been there for three years.

Were you passionate about the environment growing up?

I was. I grew up in Toowoomba. And it's great to see high school students in Mackay really passionate about the environment as well. Young people really have the most concern about their future and the future of their region.

How did you feel when you first heard the mine's approval was blocked?

We're concerned that it's taken action from a community group to highlight serious flaws in the process.

Was it a relief to hear the news?

We'd like to see Greg Hunt take a proper look at the impacts of this mine. It will be Australia's largest coal mine with huge environmental impacts, which we say haven't been properly assessed. We're grateful that it's now going to go back to him, but it's his responsibility to make sure he looks at all the new information in front of him and makes a proper assessment.

Are you feeling hopeful?

Unfortunately we've seen media statements suggesting that Tony Abbott and Minister Hunt think that they've above Australia's environment laws and that they can choose to disregard them if they want to, to push ahead with supporting what would be a mega coal mine.

What sort of responses have you had from the public?

We've had a huge amount of support from the community since the announcement. Including some people who made it clear that they work in the coal industry. Just because people work in the industry doesn't mean they don't have concerns about what the impact of a big project like this is going to be.

Have you have any vitriolic responses?

Surprisingly no. My phone number's on the Internet and people can call me if they want to. I do believe Australians want the best for their country.

Has it been a David and Goliath story fighting a foreign-owned mining company?

Certainly we're a small environment group, but we have a very long and proud history of defending the environment in our region.

How did the group first get involved with the Carmichael mine?

We've been looking at the Carmichael mine since it was first announced. We've also seen last year Adani really exaggerating the economic benefits of the mine. It's not going to produce 10,000 jobs as they claim, it's much closer to 2000 jobs.

What do you envision for Mackay's future economy?

I do think that we haven't explored options for renewable energy, and the new Queensland government has excellent policies on renewables. We need to make sure that we're diversifying and supporting sustainable agriculture and actually doing everything we can to support our vibrant tourism industry.