Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Fighting to keep Acland alive -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

The last permanent resident in the tiny Queensland town of Acland is fighting to keep the town
alive and prevent it from being swallowed by a nearby coal mine.


TRACY BOWDEN, PRESENTER: The resources sector has long been a pillar of the Australian economy, and
as the Henry Tax Review indicates, it's only going to become more important.

But balancing mining growth and small rural communities isn't an easy task. Especially in
Queensland, where mining is moving from more remote parts of the state into more populated rural

Acland is a tiny bush town, that Earnt its place in history as Queensland's first "Tidy Town".

At the moment the State Government is considering an application to close it to make way for open
cut mining.

In anticipation most residents have already left. But for one man, the bonds of home are too

John Taylor reports from Queensland.

JOHN TAYLOR, REPORTER: When is a town no longer a town, and when does the past guarantee a future?
This is the dilemma facing Acland, and one of its loyal sons.

Acland is a tiny place about two hours drive west of Brisbane. Google Earth shows what it looked
like a few years ago. Underground coal mining helped establish it in 1913 and the town peaked at
about 200 people in 1952.

GLENN BEUTEL, RESIDENT: Most people who lived in Acland when I was a child worked at the mine.

JOHN TAYLOR: For 57 year old Glenn Beutel, Acland is home, but now it's almost a ghost town. He's
the last permanent resident. One family's packing up and another renting off him until he says

GLENN BEUTEL: It's a haven for me. Um... I hadn't had any plans to move anywhere else, this is

JOHN TAYLOR: What did this place mean to your mum and dad?

GLENN BEUTEL: Oh, well it meant a lot of hard work.

JOHN TAYLOR: It's where his parents toiled voluntarily in a local park for years, to help Acland
become Queensland's first Tidy Town.

GLENN BEUTEL: Gained a lot of recognition, in, when it was established and with Tidy Town success
and it was an inspiration to a lot of other communities to do more.

NOEL STROHFELD, LOCAL COUNCILLOR: Most younger people would have gone indoors, but they used to
work out in the sun, toil in the gardens and the parks. Yeah, their whole heart and soul was in

JOHN TAYLOR: But Glenn Beutel is fighting a future he doesn't want. Mining gave birth to Acland,
and it looks like it's going to kill it.

JIM RANDELL, NEW ACLAND COAL: Well we have an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) in the system at
the moment that's under consideration to take our operation from a current 4.8 million tonnes a
year of product, to anything up to ten million tonnes a year of product.

JOHN TAYLOR: The nearby New Acland coal mine is seeking State Government approval to expand its
operations to literally swallow the site of Acland.

JIM RANDELL: I have grandchildren who, who, want careers and while they might not work in mining,
ah, we have to, we have to look after our grandchildren and children. Ah so, you know, my view is
that it is better for the community, but my view is only one view and we have a, we have an
independent system of arbitration and that's, that's the system we have.

JOHN TAYLOR: When the expansion plan was announced, most of the people of Acland sold their homes
to the mine. In 2006, their last hurrah was a garage sale.

KATHY GREENHALGH, FORMER RESIDENT: Someone said to me, it's like a flock of birds, one's taken
flight and everyone's gone with them. We certainly don't want to be last birds sitting on the
ground and they're the ones you see squashed on the road with the trucks {laughs}

{to husband} ... have to wait for the flowers to die

JOHN TAYLOR: After 33 years, Kathy Greenhalgh left. At her new home, not far up the road, her and
her husband enjoy a garden full of plants from Acland.

KATHY GREENHALGH: Well we sort of knew, because there was a mining lease, has been there since
1913. See, the school closed 2004, and there was only, what was there? nine, ten or something
children at the school at that stage. So it was going downhill.

JOHN TAYLOR: Do you regret moving from Acland?

KG: Umm not, no, not really. Not in the way it was and is. Well, I mean, it's just not Acland

JOHN TAYLOR: Even though nearly everyone's left, the mine's expansion still needs to pass an
environmental impact assessment. Despite this, houses have either been left vacant, moved or
demolished. Acland has largely disappeared, even before final approval.

GLENN BEUTEL: Well, given a choice, I think the heritage in Acland is significant and I think even
the empty streets is, is a monument to the horror that companies can cause.

JIM RANDELL: We purchased a lot of that land through, through willing buyers and willing sellers
and, ah, I think, I think with Glenn, he has a process that he wants to go through and we'll
continue to negotiate and, as I say, try to resolve those tensions.

JOHN TAYLOR: Mining is a pillar of the Queensland economy and with the resources boom the industry
is spreading into more populated parts of the State. But for Glenn Beutel, the price of progress is
too much.

GLENN BEUTEL: There are a lot of other communities that are covered with mining permits that are
threatened with coal mines and I don't think they should have to go through this.