By Veronica Laffy
I write in response to the Weekend Australia front page story, Good times flow from well of discontent, on the wonderful relationship and excellent compensation enjoyed by Peter Thompson with Origin Energy in Roma.
As a landholder involved in ongoing negotiations for access with QGC, I can assure you that the deal struck by Peter is one that is rare and certainly not on offer to most landholders.
Photo: Laffy family on break from the farm
$3000 per well is certainly no supplement to our existing income, and doesn't even come close to covering our time investment in monitoring company activities on our land, were it to eventuate. The company refuses to pay for landholder time involved in negotiating access - landholders are in fact the only party involved in the process who aren't remunerated for their time. Land access agents, government officers, solicitors, experts, valuers -all are paid in this process. Would you work for free to facilitate the access of your backyard for hundreds of strangers over an unspecified time frame? Landholders are being forced into business agreements spanning decades, we have limited knowledge of the real life impacts, although given the numbers of people on Peter Thompson's property amenity and lifestyle impacts alone seem quite substantial. That's before we even talk about wholesale removal of water and the millions of tonnes of salt THAT THEY STILL DONT HAVE AN EFFECTIVE USE FOR. It is looking increasingly as though salt will be buried in landfill. That's MILLIONS OF TONNES. We have the most to lose and the least to gain, is it any wonder we are concerned?
We run an organic livestock enterprise modelled on the likes of Joel Salatin's Polyface Farm. We have spent the past five years achieving organic certification and getting our property to a place where we can start to implement some of his practices. Our business model will not coexist with the rollout of wells, roads, chemicals, daily traffic, and methane venting and flaring. The impacts are too great - we would need to employ 2 full time staff just to monitor the traffic and ensure bio security alone. We have 6 children, one of whom has Down Syndrome - the impact on our ability to have a safe haven for him and our other children here on our farm is enormous. We would no longer know who was here, when they were here, if they were "safe". Living in a rural or remote area has difficulties, but one of the great advantages is knowing who is and isn't on your property, this would be gone for the rest of my children's childhood.
We are being constantly threatened with land court. We have neighbours in the same position who could handle the stress no more and signed agreements for laughable sums because the cost and stress of a possible court battle was too great. They now live on an industrialised farm with constant traffic, random access, broken company agreements and no review for 15 years. There is no company operating that will agree to a one year review. They will just threaten court if you don't agree to their terms. Intimidation and dictatorship 101 is the norm, particularly with QGC.
So forgive us for seeming to appear discontent. We are not "left wing greenie activists”. We are no one and everyone. We are the common average Australian; having a go; taking a risk. We are an average family "negotiating" against the might of a multinational corporation and a State government. People like Peter Thompson are promoting something that is not the norm in this CSG rollout, but rather the rare.
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