Saving Great Artesian Basin

19 March 2024. Georgie Somerset, AgForce General President.

As of Friday, AgForce launched legal action in the Federal Court to stop Glencore’s proposal to pump industrial waste into the Great Artesian Basin.

It’s an unprecedented move for us, but the concerns of the agricultural community we represent are too great, and the silence from government regarding those concerns is too deafening for us to do otherwise.

As far as we can see this is the only recourse left to stop this ridiculous proposal that puts at risk one of Australia’s largest freshwater sources.

We as farmers and agriculturalists know and understand the immense value of water. That’s why we can’t understand why anyone would propose to put that at risk – and our food security along with it.

We have heard your concerns and your anger. That’s why we’ve decided to underwrite and lead legal action in this way.

This is what AgForce is here for – to represent and protect the best interests of Queensland’s agricultural producers – especially in times of crisis.

We have filed papers in the Federal Court challenging the February 9 2022 federal environment department decision that this proposal from Glencore to pump waste from a Coal Fired Power Station into the Great Artesian Basin was not captured by the matter of national environmental significance (MNES) provisions of the EPBC Act.

It’s absurd that such a ridiculous proposal could proceed this far. But here we are, with Glencore most of the way through the process – having almost all the approvals it needs to progress to pilot stage.

While Glencore may call this a pilot project, one of our greatest concerns is that if it does damage the Great Artesian Basin in the way we expect, there is no way of getting 300,000 tonnes of industrial waste back out of the basin again.

This court action comes on the back of an exhaustive multi-year process to get the proposal put aside, with AgForce consistently arguing that there is no basis to even contemplate pumping waste into one of the world’s great clean water sources.

A water source relied upon by hundreds of communities, industry and environment across a third of Australia’s landscape.

While AgForce has underwritten the action to ensure the Great Artesian Basin is protected, we are seeking financial and other support from industry. Our donations link is here and we appreciate any support you can provide.

That this project was ever contemplated defies all reason, and the fact that AgForce must take it to the Federal Court for resolution is deeply disturbing to the agricultural industry and communities across Australia.

/Public Release. View in full here.