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New Acland’s job opportunities remain locked up

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Australian Resources and Energy Group AREEA notes today’s decision of the High Court of Australia throws further uncertainty and delay onto the New Acland expansion project.

The High Court today sent New Acland Coal Mine’s Stage 3 expansion back to the Land Court for another hearing, leaving in limbo the near-500 jobs and $7 billion injection to the Queensland economy the project would create.

“After beginning the approval process 13 years ago, it is disappointing New Acland’s job-creating expansion will be subject to another frustrating layer of uncertainty,” AREEA Director Operations Tara Diamond said.

“This is a shovel-ready project that would create hundreds of critically-needed jobs as Queensland looks to recover from the employment and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“New Acland’s operator New Hope Group is an Australian-owned company with a long track record of local employment, responsible environmental stewardship and being a well-respected and integral member of the Darling Downs community.

“The company has long proven to be a responsible operator and its planned expansion had passed a significant number of rigorous assessments, including by the Federal Government’s Independent Expert Scientific Committee, an original Land Court approval recommendation and the Government granted the project its environmental authority.”

Ms Diamond said the Labor State Government’s lack of urgency at New Acland had already resulted in hundreds of regional jobs being shed in recent years as it awaited on this extraordinarily protracted decision.

“From an investment perspective, this is terrible for the major projects Queensland needs so desperately to create jobs in the COVID-19 recovery,” she said.

“It is another example of how malicious and disruptive lawfare challenges from well-resourced minority activist groups can stifle local jobs. It also highlights the broader threat to Australia’s sovereign risk profile when projects such as this are tied up in the courts for decades.

“Today’s decision further highlights that approval processes for job-creating major projects such as New Acland must be streamlined.

“Providing a platform of greater industrial stability to international investors would significantly increase Australia’s chances at securing the next wave of major projects.

“This is incredibly important given the Federal Department of Industry’s Office of the Chief Economist recently highlighted Australia’s resources projects had entered a new growth cycle.

“Additionally, AREEA’s modelling shows Queensland’s resources sector has 20 new or expansion projects in its development pipeline, including a large number in coal, that would create 6,240 direct new jobs in Queensland over the next five years.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Brad Thompson, 0409 781 580

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