top of page

Email the Environment and Water Minister

Send an email

Save Eungella has prepared an email to be sent to The Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP who is the Minister for the Environment and Water. In the email is an urgent request to enact S70 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999..

 

Section 70 (S70) of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is a provision that allows the Australian government to take action to protect the environment, particularly in relation to matters of national environmental significance.

S70 provides the Environment Minister with the power to make decisions about whether a proposed action is likely to have a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance. Matters of national environmental significance include world heritage properties, national heritage places, wetlands of international importance, threatened species, and ecological communities.

The email we have prepared should also be sent to the Shadow Minister for Environment, Senator the Hon Jonathon Duniam, as well as the Shadow Minister for Water, Senator Perin Davey.

Simply copy and paste the below information.

Send the email to

Subject of the email

Urgent request to enact s70 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 to Save Eungella. 

Body of the email

The Hon. Tanya Plibersek

MP Minister for the Environment and Water

PO Box 6022

House of Representatives

Parliament House

Canberra ACT 2600

23 August 2023

Dear Minister, 

We write to you in regards to the Queensland Government's Pioneer-Burdekin Pumped Hydro Project ("the Project"). The Queensland Government announced the $12 billion Project on 28 September 2022.{1}

We write to you as residents affected by this project and ask that you request that Queensland Hydro refer the Project to you as you are empowered to under section 70 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

 

Queensland Hydro is owned by the Queensland Government and has been tasked with delivering the Project, along with other pumped hydro projects, in Queensland.

There are strong grounds to conclude that this large project may be a controlled action under the EPBC Act. It is now clear that this project will have a significant impact on a significant number of matters protected by the EPBC Act:

1. The project will impact the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, being 75 kilometers west of Mackay, Central Queensland. Concerningly, the Project will transfer water between two independent reef catchment systems that flow into the Great Barrier Reef, being the Burdekin River Catchment and the Pioneer River catchment. 

 

Cattle Creek, in the Pioneer river catchment, will be dammed to form the lower reservoir. Water will pumped from here to upper reservoirs in the Burdekin river catchment, and back down. These upper reservoirs will dam Massey, Pla, and Quandong Creeks. 

In early community meetings with Queensland Hydro, their officials have admitted that the hydro project will impact the quality of water they release into Cattle Creek and they have suggested they will need to "treat" the water before releasing it. This has the potential to have a clear direct and indirect impact on the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park under the EPBC Act. 

2. The Project will impact listed threatened species and ecological communities protected under the EPBC Act. 

 

The Eungella Day Frog (Taudactylus eungellensis) has been listed as an endangered species under the EPBC Act since July 2000.{2} The Eungella Day Frog is known to habitat in Cattle Creek and the Eungella National Park environs. As noted, the lower reservoir of the Project will dam the Cattle Creek and Queensland Hydro has proposed relocating roads around the upper reservoirs through the Eungella National Park.

 

The Eungella Gastric Brooding Frog (Rheobatrachus vitellinus) has been listed as an extinct species under the EPBC Act since July 2000.{3} However, it is listed as an endangered species under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Qld NC Act).{4} Further, it is listed by the Queensland Government as being present amongst the wildlife of Eungella National Park.{5} The Eungella Gastric-Brooding Frog was discovered in 1984 and is restricted to the rainforest areas of the Clarke Range in Eungella National Park and the adjacent Pelion State Forest in central eastern Queensland.

 

The Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) has been listed as an endangered species under the EPBC Act since February 2022.{6} Koalas are known to habit a range of open forest and woodland communities on the Clarke Ranges, bordering Eungella National Park. Koalas are found in higher densities where food trees are growing on more fertile soils and along watercourses such as Massey and Pla Creeks.

The northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) has been listed as an endangered species under the EPBC Act since April 2005.{7} The Mackay Highlands, which includes Crediton and Gamma State Forests, and Homevale and Eungella National Parks, contain a high level of biodiversity and provide habitat for the northern quoll, one of the few remaining populations in Australia that does not appear to have been decimated by cane toads – despite toads being present in the area.

The granite nightshade (Solanum graniticum), has been listed as an endangered species under the EPBC Act since December 2021.{8} The central greater glider (Petauroides volans) has been listed as an endangered species under the EPBC Act since July 2022.{9} A further ten (10) species of flora and fauna, listed by the Queensland Government{10} as being present amongst the wildlife of Eungella National Park, have been listed as vulnerable under the EPBC Act. 

Eungella-specific vulnerable flora and fauna that are listed by the Queensland Government{11} as being present amongst the wildlife of Eungella National Park include the Eungella stink bush (Zieria eungellaensis), critically endangered under the Qld NC Act{12} ; Eungella Prostanthera (Prostanthera Eungella), critically endangered under the Qld NC Act{13}; Eungella Spiny Crayfish (Euastacus eungella), endangered under the Qld NC Act{14}; Eungella Honey Eater (Bolemoreus hindwoodi), vulnerable under the Qld NC Act{15}; Eungella Coleus (Coleus eungellaensis) vulnerable under the Qld NC Act{16}; Eungella Tinker Frog (Taudactylus liemi), near threatened under the Qld NC Act{17}; Button Quail of Eungella{18} (Turnix sp.), least concern under the Qld NC Act{19}; Eungella 

Bottlebrush{20} (Melaleuca paludicola), least concern under the Qld NC Act{21}; Eungella Cyprus (Cyperus sp.), least concern under the Qld NC Act{22}; Red Eungella Satinash (Acmena resa), least concern under the Qld NC Act{23}.

 

Other vulnerable flora and fauna that are listed by the Queensland Government{24} as being present amongst the wildlife of Eungella National Park include the filmy fern (Hymenophyllum reinwardtii), critically endangered under the Qld NC Act{25}, the Kunzea sericothrix, endangered under the Qld NC Act{26}, the red goshawk (Erythrotriorchis radiatus) endangered under the Qld NC Act{27}, and the ghost bat (Macroderma gigas), endangered under the Qld NC Act{28}. A further five (5) species of flora are listed as near threatened under the Qld NC Act, and a further fourteen (14) species of flora and fauna are listed as vulnerable under the Qld NC Act.

3. The Project will impact wetlands of international importance (listed under the Ramsar Convention). The Bowling Green Bay wetlands are a ‘jewel in the lower Burdekin River's crown’{29}. Bowling Green Bay, located south of Townsville, is home to a diverse array of coastal wetlands. The diversity and extent of wetlands, including the wildlife it supports, has led to large parts of the bay being listed as a Ramsar site—a wetland of international importance—under the Ramsar Convention {30}. 

 

Ramsar wetlands are those that are representative, rare or unique wetlands, or are important for conserving biological diversity{31}.

Furthermore, the project will also impact the Broken River, Urannah Creek and Massey Creek Aggregation{32}, a Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia (DIWA) nationally important wetland{33}. 

4. The project will impact listed migratory species (protected under international agreements). 

 

The white-throated needletail swift (Hirundapus caudacutus) is found in Eungella and is migratory{34}. The white-throated needletail has been listed as a Vulnerable species under the EPBC Act since 201935.

 

The white-throated needletail is listed as migratory under the EPBC Act, as Hirundapus caudacutus, the China–Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (CAMBA) as Hirundapus caudacutus, the Japan–Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (JAMBA) as Hirundapus caudacutus, and the Republic of Korea – Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (ROKAMBA) as Hirundapus caudacutus.

Further, the migratory Pacific shortfin eel (Anguilla obscura) and the migratory Longfin eel (Anguilla reinhardtii), are listed amongst the Ray-finned fishes of Broken River, Urannah Creek and Massey Creek Aggregation{36}, a DIWA nationally important wetland, and headwaters for the Burdekin River catchment.

 

The migratory Southern shortfin eel (Anguilla australis) together with the above- 

mentioned Pacific shortfin eel and the Longfin eel are listed as present in the Wildlife of Eungella National Park{37}. The three eels are listed as Wetland Dependent Species in the Queensland Government’s WildNet database{38}. The Southern shortfin eel is listed as near threatened; population trend unknown; in The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species 2018{39}. The Pacific shortfin eel is listed as data deficient; population trend unknown; in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018{40}. The Longfin eel is listed as Least Concern; population trend unknown; in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018{41}. 

Given the clear potential for the Project to impact, both directly and indirectly, these four protected matters under the EPBC Act, we ask that you request Queensland Hydro to refer this Project to you. 

We believe that a referral is urgent given the Queensland Government's rapid decision to proceed with this project without any on-the-ground evaluation of the project's environmental impact. Despite receiving no environmental approvals, the Queensland Government has already allocated $270 million Queensland Hydro to proceed with this Project and its other initiatives.{42} 

Queensland Hydro started exploratory geo-test drilling at Dalrymple Heights, Eungella, on World Environment Day, the 5th June 2023, within Platypus habitat, {43} five days before their Platypus Management Plan was complete. {44}

 

Given the environmental importance of this area we are concerned that significant environmental damage could occur even during the early works period. We believe that your urgent intervention in this matter could help bring independent oversight to protect the environmental significance of our pristine environment. 

The communities’ concern for impact on our pristine environment and threatened species, is reflected by our past State Parliament Petition, which received some 5,000 signatures. {45} 

We would like to draw your attention to the Queensland Museum’s publication ‘Eungella-Land of the Clouds’. “This richly illustrated publication, featuring more than 400 full-colour photographs, is the first comprehensive book on the region for general readers. More than 30 authors — experts in their respective fields of botany, zoology, geology, geography, ecology, history and anthropology — have contributed their research to broaden our understanding of what makes Eungella unique, and worthy of further scientific study. It also explores the vulnerability of rainforest ecosystems in a changing climate, and the threats posed by cyclones, fire and species decline.” {46} 

We would also like to draw your attention to The Royal Society of Queensland’s publication ‘THE LAND OF CLOUDS REVISITED-The Biodiversity and Ecology of the Eungella Rainforests 2020 – EUNGELLA SPECIAL ISSUE VOL 125’. “A few years ago, Guest Editor Prof Roger Kitching of Griffith University organised and executed an extensive survey of the biodiversity of the Eungella rainforests generously funded by the Mackay Regional Council. Prof Kitching has subsequently assembled the resulting papers into Special Issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland on the rainforests of the Eungella region. Special thanks are due to sponsors Environmental Futures Research Institute, Griffith University and its director Professor Zhihong Xu, Reef Catchments NRM group and an anonymous philanthropist. Without their support it would not have been possible to produce the work in print.” {47} 

We would also ask to be involved in the consultation process for any approval process for the Project under the EPBC Act. 

We would also welcome you to visit our beautiful community. 

You can contact our community group “Save Eungella” President Douglas Cannon on 0427 220 509, email info@saveeungella.com.au, or postal address c/ Finch Hatton Post Office, Anzac Parade, Finch Hatton, Qld, 4756. 

Yours sincerely,

{1} Palaszczuk, A. 2022, World’s biggest pumped hydro for Queensland, 28 September, https://statements.qld.gov.au/statements/96233

{2} http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=1887 

{3} https://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=1910 

{4} https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/species-search/details/?id=650 

{5} Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2013) Wildlife of Eungella National Park, WetlandInfo website https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/facts-maps/wildlife/?AreaID=national-park-eungella 

{6} https://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=85104 

{7} https://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=331 

{8}http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=84819 

{9}https://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=254 

{10}Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2013) Wildlife of Eungella National Park, WetlandInfo website https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/facts-maps/wildlife/?AreaID=national-park-eungella 

{11}Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2013) Wildlife of Eungella National Park, WetlandInfo website https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/facts-maps/wildlife/?AreaID=national-park-eungella 

{12} https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/species-search/details/?id=31682 

{13} https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/species-search/details/?id=35828 

{14} https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/species-search/details/?id=33591 

{15} https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/species-search/details/?id=1514 

{16} https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/species-search/details/?id=41015 

{17} https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/species-search/details/?id=654 

{18} https://absa.asn.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/C232043.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1GTyvGtgCUJyHTfHfdHaUIME4MBProBqzIFYYAOO6MRuKhhn9erGA5SKw 

{19} https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/species-search/details/?id=1095

{20} https://www.mackay.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/266560/Melaleuca_paludicola.pdf 

{21} https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/species-search/details/?id=31334 

{22} https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/species-search/details/?id=7093 

{23} https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/species-search/details/?id=14882 

{24} Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2013) Wildlife of Eungella National Park, WetlandInfo website https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/facts-maps/wildlife/?AreaID=national-park-eungella 

{25} https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/species-search/details/?id=41411 

{26} https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/species-search/details/?id=36110 

{27} https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/species-search/details/?id=1728 

{28} https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/species-search/details/?id=994 

{29} https://www.nqdrytropics.com.au/projects/waterways-wetlands-and-coasts-program/restoration-of-the-ramsar-wetlands-of-bowling-green-bay-catchment-2019-2023/ 

{30} https://www.dcceew.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/ramsar-sites-australia.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3YyvkWTvgSEsP6H_oUY_g-yzK3NvO3vmxEuo78Yihvc1wLwRk1f1J8_kU 

{31} https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/resources/static/pdf/ecology/catchment-stories/lower-burdekin/qwp2013.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3Nu33Zg3yN0fJMd7M3a_TYMWhjjN8yUHdSr_7w9sl1kS9wsilw7XYCWeE 

{32} https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/facts-maps/diwa-wetland-broken-river-urannah-creek-and-massey-creek-aggregation/ 

{33} https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/resources/tools/assessment-search-tool/a-directory-of-important-wetlands-in-australia-diwa/#:~:text=A%20Directory%20of%20Important%20Wetlands%20in%20Australia%20(DIWA)%20is%20an,the%20State%20and%20Territory%20governments. 

34https://www.royalsocietyqld.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Individual_Web_PDFs/PRSQ_Volume_125_10_Leach_Web.pdf 

{35} https://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=682 

{36} https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/facts-maps/wildlife/?AreaID=diwa-wetland-broken-river-urannah-creek-and-massey-creek-aggregation&Kingdom=animals&Class=ray-finned%20fishes 

{37} https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/facts-maps/wildlife/?AreaID=national-park-eungella 

{38} https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/plants-animals/species-information/wildnet 

{39} https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/195502/154801652 

{40} https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/196302/176496284 

{41} https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/196303/154801946 

{42} Dennien, M. and Hope, Z. 2022, "‘Bigger than Cross River Rail’: Premier puts $12b price on pumped hydro site", Brisbane Times, https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/queensland/bigger-than-cross-river-rail-premier-puts-12b-price-on-pumped-hydro-site-20220929-p5bm15.html 

{43} https://www.facebook.com/SaveEungella/posts/pfbid0hiSH9okqoU5yzQ6bPbugjQ2WpkbAagBkBpPywf2H1EkWHBCHmBcHGN4cghNk1gh7l 

{44} https://qldhydro.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/QHY-QHY-PLN-ENV-00003-Queensland-Hydro-Platypus-Management-Plan-1.pdf 

{45} 3820-22 - No to the Pioneer-Burdekin Hydro-Plant, Closing on: 4/4/2023, https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/Work-of-the-Assembly/Petitions/Petition-Details?id=3820 

{46} https://www.shop.qm.qld.gov.au/default/land-of-clouds-eungella.html 

{47} https://www.royalsocietyqld.org/eungella-special-issue-vol-125/ 

bottom of page