We have written to Dr Steven Miles, the new Environment Minister, about the problems caused in our area from poorly situated farms. We would urge all concerned residents to also take the time to write to him. Ten years of begging and pleading with Logan Council to STOP approving farms on small lots close to homes has left us despairing, and we have little faith that Logan’s new Draft Planning Scheme currently before the State Government for approval, has properly addressed our concerns to ensure there are no more ‘incidents’ in the future.
We’ve had enough of dead wildlife and domestic fowl as a result of poor chemical usage, of chemical overspray onto our properties, of improper and unregulated chemical storage and use, of chemically-laden runoff going into creeks, and of previous governments’ insistence that these intensive farms are not a ‘workplace’ and therefore Workplace Health and Safety rules do not apply. It’s a no-brainer that they SHOULD apply, just as they do with any other industry that uses hazardous materials onsite.
Send your email to Dr Steven Miles, Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection at email@example.com.
We’d suggest also sending copies of your letters to your local member (in Locker, Ian Rickuss, LOCKYER@parliament.qld.gov.au, for Logan, Linus Power, firstname.lastname@example.org), and to your representative on Logan City Council.
Our letter is below, feel free to ‘borrow’ in composing your own, and add your own comments. (Oh, and your address, we’ve removed ours here because we don’t like being trolled!):
Liz Hall-Downs & Kim Downs
Greenbank QLD 4124
February 24, 2015
Dr Steven Miles
Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection
As residents of Logan’s Greenbank, we became involved in the campaign over the issue of farms being allowed on small lots close to homes following a number of ‘incidents’ involving improper and/or dangerous use of agricultural chemicals which impacted on neighbouring residents and their environment.
Had these incidents not occurred we would never have become aware that these farms are not governed by Workplace Health and Safety Laws as they were not officially defined as a ‘workplace’. This needs to change. Farmworkers ARE workers, and the kind of traditional monoculture farming most local farms are engaged in involves the use of agricultural chemicals that can cause serious harm if improperly used or stored. We have seen many incidences of improper use and storage since moving here in 2000, but despite a massive community campaign, a website documenting the issues, and over 60 residents writing to council demanding action, we find that after 10 years Logan Council is STILL allowing farms to be set up on small lots close to residents’ homes.
Division 7 Councillor Laurie Smith wrote to State representatives in July last year on behalf of concerned residents, asking that these farms be redefined as a workplace so that WPH&S rules could be applied and WPH&S would be obliged to investigate complaints instead of insisting (as they have in the past) that it’s not their responsibility. However, as residents we are still in the dark as to what response was received from our local member for Lockyer, Ian Rickuss, as Mr Smith did not send on this information, despite being asked and promising to do so.
EVERY OTHER INDUSTRY that uses hazardous materials are required by law to display information on what is stored in case of fire or accident, and are subject to spot checks. This is how it should be. Our contention has always been that if Logan City Council insists on allowing this kind of small-lot farming in areas where people live, they have a responsibility to make sure these activities can be carried out safely, and incidents of unsafe behavior should be prosecuted.
Please, Mr Miles, as the new Environment Minister, I am writing to ask you to peruse our website, The Greenbank Mozzie (https://safegreenbanknow.wordpress.com/) and see for yourself the evidence amassed there – mass poisonings of wildlife (documented on video link at the top of the homepage), improper storage and disposal of chemicals (documented in many, many media clippings), and the dozens of letters concerned residents have sent in the past to Council outlining the impacts on them personally and demanding action on this issue.
It’s been ten years now since this issue was first raised with Council, and we feel it’s way past time that something was done to definitively deal with this clear danger to the health and amenity of residents and the environment.
Logan’s new Draft Planning Scheme is currently before the State Government awaiting approval, but Council staff have been so intransigent on this issue that we fear the status quo will be allowed to continue. We really need your representation to make sure Logan Council does not continue to disrespect our right to a clean and safe living environment.
Liz Hall-Downs & Kim Downs
cc. Ian Rickuss, Logan City Councillor Laurie Smith