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Clive Palmer has publicly responded to the Federal Government’s decision not to approve his central Queensland coal project.

Clive Palmer has publicly responded to the Federal Government’s decision not to approve his central Queensland coal project.

“There are existing mines operating now which are closer to the Great Barrier Reef than we are,” Palmer said at a media conference. “Is the government going to bring in legislation to close those mines down to be consistent?

“These are decisions that affect the whole community, affect our standard of living. Queensland is the world’s biggest coal exporter, that’s the reality. Are we going to close the coal industry down? Are 350,000 Queenslanders going to lose their livelihood?”

Palmer said he would take the matter further without divulging the specifics.

“There will be action taken. I can’t really talk about it,” Palmer said.

“I’m not the sort of person who doesn’t do anything, as you’ve probably realised from my history.”

The conference follows Federal Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek’s decision to knock back Clive Palmer’s recent coal plans.

“I won’t be approving the central Queensland coal project,” Plibersek said. “The adverse environmental impacts are simply too great.”

“The project would have unacceptable impacts of freshwater in the area and potentially on fragile seagrass meadows that feed dugongs, and provide feeding grounds for fish.”

History repeats

Plibersek’s decision was reported as the first time an Australian coal mine had been rejected on such grounds, though it was not the first instance of a broader coal project meeting the same fate.

Former Federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, made a similar decision to reject a port and coal loading facility in 2008. That proposal – named the Galilee coal project – was put forward by Waratah Coal, whose chair at the time was Clive Palmer.

The 2008 project was rejected due to adverse environmental impacts.

In response to the Minister’s rejection, Waratah Coal applied for judicial review on the grounds that the Garrett’s decision was handed down outside of the timeframe mandated by relevant law.

The court dismissed the application, ruling that the Minister’s failure to reach a decision within the set time limit did not invalidate the decision itself.

After the multi-billion-dollar project was flattened by the court, Palmer and his associates were forced to revise the plan, as per the Minister’s suggestion.

Waratah Coal formed a new proposal in 2009, moving its intended site of operation out of Shoalwater Bay and away from vulnerable Ramsar Wetland area to Abbot Point. After a long bureaucratic process, the project was approved in 2013.