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Mining company with lobbyists spent $660,000 on election

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The New Hope Group has been shedding staff amid ongoing delays with the proposed expansion of its New Acland coal mine.

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For months, the company has been calling on the Palaszczuk Labor Government to finalise approvals for the stage three expansion of the mine, near Toowoomba.

The proposed expansion has been controversial, pitting environmentalists against local advocates, and sparked legal action.

Corporate disclosures reveal New Hope spent $658,528.31 campaigning in the lead-up to the October 31 state election. It lobbied both sides of politics, and advertised the merits of its proposal, before Labor was re-elected for a third term.

The company also campaigned ahead of the weekend federal by-election in Groom, a seat retained by the Liberal National Party, and has sought to resume negotiations with the State Government.

On Friday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told a Queensland Resources Council lunch that the coal sector was under extraordinary pressure due to trade tensions between Australia and China. She said her government would continue to fight for the sector.

“Whether it’s coal, LNG, minerals or hydrogen, I want you to know that my government absolutely supports job-creating investment in Australia,” Palaszczuk said.

“Demand for our coal industry will remain strong, particularly as our major trading partners move to more efficient steel furnaces that rely on higher quality metallurgical coal.”

However, New Hope’s campaign expenditure is another indication of the lengths some companies are prepared to go in order to engage with government. Its campaign expenditure was largely advertising, with some unspecified digital media services.

New Hope was the first company signed up by former Labor official, MP and Palaszczuk staffer turned lobbyist Evan Moorhead. During the election, New Hope paid for digital media services to be delivered by another lobbying firm, Govstrat, which has stronger links with the LNP.

An analysis by the ABC last week revealed Moorhead’s Anacta Strategies had met with staff working in the Premier’s office more than any other lobbyist. The firm has also been paid to work for the Labor Party.

Anacta Strategies held six meetings in a single month last year with the Premier’s chief of staff and the chief of staff of then-state development minister, Cameron Dick, who will tomorrow hand down the state budget in his new role as treasurer.

The main opponent to the New Acland mine expansion, the Oakey Coal Action Alliance, complained of only securing six meetings in more than three years with frontbenchers or their staff.

The regulations around lobbying will be subject to a routine review next year.

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