Australian actor Michael Caton
Australian actor Michael Caton David Thomas

Michael Caton joins Clean Air Qld in coal train cover push

POLITICAL parties are dreamin' if they think they will get The Castle actor Michael Caton's support before outlining where they stand on covering coal trains.

Clean Air Queensland launched its campaign this week, calling for political parties to announce where they stood on covering coal trains to stop dust spreading through Queensland towns.

The LNP says spraying the coal with a protective veneer keeps coal dust contamination within recommended guidelines, while Labor says it will support a scientific review.

The anti coal dust group's main focus this election is to target electorates on the train line which runs from the Acland coal mine through Toowoomba, Ipswich and 21 suburbs of Brisbane.

Mr Caton, who helped launch the campaign, said the fact that coal trains were not covered already was "bloody minded".

"They've already got the carriages they use for grain, same as the coal, and they could really easily put lids on them," he said.

"Why on earth wouldn't you? They're just being bloody minded and they're treating people like sh**".

Clean Air Queensland community organiser Michael Kane said it was a state-wide issue and was affecting the health of residents who lived in towns on the train line.

So far, he said they had minor parties and independent candidates show their support but no major political parties had declared where they stood on covering coal trains.

"We need all political parties to back this," Mr Kane said. "This issue is a lot bigger than politics."

Queensland's Environment Minister Andrew Powell said the LNP Government took air quality issues seriously.

"We have listened to the concerns of residents and have worked with the resources industry to ensure wagons are sprayed with a protective veneer before being transported," he said.

"Testing has shown that coal dust levels along this line are within the recommended guideline."

He also said the LNP was working with the Federal Government on a 10-year inland rail project which would allow coal freight to be diverted out of Ipswich and Brisbane.

Labor Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mulherin said the party understood there was community concern about this matter and supported a review.

"Labor supports an independent, scientific review of mitigation treatments and will implement best practices and support further technological improvements in this area," he said.

Mr Caton said environment issues were close to his heart. Before he became an actor, Mr Caton said he worked in irrigation and had a deep understanding of water tables.

He spoke about his concerns in south-east Queensland - especially in the Darling Downs region - along with the damage caused by adding extra wells to accommodate a growing coal seam gas sector.

He was also concerned about the Galilee Basin, and the large amount of water that will need to be pumped from the underground water table to cater for the nearby mines.

"That region from Alpha to Longreach is the start of The Great Artesian Basin. And (farmers) are totally dependent on that water to water their stock.

"And who has got first priority? The coal mines.

"But you can't eat coal and you can't drink gas."

Mr Kane said they believed train wagons with lids, which mining companies could use to transport coal safely, already existed but were just not being used.

"People are getting sick, people's health is at risk," Mr Kane said.

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