IN WHAT Lockyer Valley Regional Council Mayor Steve Jones described as "an unusual alliance", the council, Lockyer Valley Ratepayers Association and the Lock the Gate group came together yesterday to rally against coal seam gas mining in the Lockyer Valley.
Cr Jones said the ratepayers association in particular was regularly at odds with council but the issue of mining Queensland's salad bowl was so important it had galvanised the region.
Sydney-based shock jock Alan Jones was a special guest speaker at the forum and rallied the crowd of about 200 to stand up against mining of the valley.
Mr Jones spoke about the potential danger of water contamination that mining could produce.
"Sheer greed" was driving the mining of good farming land in Australia, he said.
Cr Jones said the whole of the Lockyer Valley needed to be declared a mining free zone.
Proposed drilling in the nearby Somerset region had prompted the forum at Grantham yesterday.
"It's the fact they're now starting to work towards drilling over in the Somerset region which is next door to us," Cr Jones said.
"We always thought that we would be safe because of the nature of the place but when they've started to drill holes or are intending to drill holes in the water catchment of Brisbane, it started to make us nervous.
"This is an extremely valuable place. The land is irreplaceable.
"We're not against gas or mining but this is just not the place for it.
"This is not an outlandish protest, it's a forum because people are serious about our region."
Cr Jones said mining the Lockyer Valley was not just a local issue but a national one.
"We can actually supply 90% of Australia's vegetables in the winter, so this land needs protecting."
Alan Jones said Australia was facing twin issues.
"We are going through the worst drought in God knows how long," he said. "The other thing we have to watch is this question of foreign ownership."
China in particular was moving in on farming land and production across Australia, he said.
"And now we've got the mining invasion in this country," Mr Jones said. "I've got nothing against foreign investment but these people are owning... owning."
Mr Jones said drought drove farmers to the wall, making them vulnerable to takeovers by foreign companies. He supported the redrawing of a map to protect Australia's food bowls where no mining would be permitted.
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