Plea to premier to progress Lake Eyre protection
Campaigners are calling for an end to delays on a key plan that will help decide the future of the Lake Eyre basin's wild rivers and floodplains, which the Queensland government has pledged to protect.
In a joint letter to Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk, several members of the Lake Eyre Basin Stakeholder Advisory group are calling for the immediate release of the consultation Regulatory Impact Statement.
The statement will assess options to better protect the rivers and floodplains and weigh up how this can be achieved alongside sustainable economic development, the Department of Environment's website says.
Environment minister Meaghan Scanlon says the government is yet to consider the document, and will release it publicly once it has.
"This is an extensive body of work that covers a third of Queensland and a number of diverse stakeholders, it's important we get it right, not rush it," Ms Scanlon said in a statement.
She did not give a timeline of when that might happen.
There has been widespread concern about how new oil and gas development could impact the environmentally and culturally important area, and better protections have been an election commitment of the Palaszczuk government.
The document will give Indigenous groups and community members a chance to have their say on the future of the important river system.
"It is an election commitment of this government to work with the traditional owners in protecting the Lake Eyre basin rivers and floodplains," Lake Eyre Basin Traditional Owner Alliance executive member George Gorringe said.
The plan to protect the Queensland section of the vast wilderness near the South Australian, Northern Territory and NSW borders is being drafted based on advice from a panel of conservationists, traditional owners, farmers, councils and mining companies.
The environment department is probing the legal impacts of the plan, but it hasn't set a deadline to release findings.
"This is an extensive body of work that needs to be done thoroughly and properly, and stakeholders will be advised when the consultation Regulatory Impact Statement is released," a department spokesperson told AAP last November.
But the work of the stakeholder advisory group concluded in July and there was no credible reason to delay public consultation, Western Rivers Alliance Coordinator and letter signatory Riley Rocco said.
Rural producer peak body AgForce has also joined the call, with CEO Mike Guerin imploring the government to begin the "critical and overdue deep consultation process".
The letter has also been signed by the Remote Area Planning and Development Board, The Pew Charitable Trust, Lock the Gate and the Desert Channels Group.
"We all agree that certainty is needed for locals in the Lake Eyre Basin," Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland coordinator Ellie Smith said.