Wednesday 17 September 2014

PRA: Regional Queensland deserves better

Minister for Natural resources & Mines, Andrew Cripps
photo sourced Courier Mail

Regional Queensland deserves better. Agricultural producers did not deserve to be labelled environmental vandals under the previous government and they don’t deserve the slur made by Minister Andrew Cripps when he said [page 3010] that those who did not support the Mineral& Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill were:
 “influenced and misled by green groups or certain law firms whose main interest is to generate community concern and discontent.”

This is clearly quite ridiculous, this polarising of the debate is very unhelpful and the Minister should take the time to read the transcript to the Mackay hearing where landowners took the trouble to point out that they have a legitimate view under no influence from any other sector.
At 4 minutes to midnight Tuesday night September 9th the Queensland Government sold out rural landowner’s property rights with the passing of the Act complete with amendments [page 3104]

The lead up consultation was a pretence and the parliamentary committee report a farce on a Bill that was so bad that it had the potential without considered and responsible modification to be second only to the notorious vegetation management act of the previous government. But then the last minute amendments presented in block with no scrutiny realistically possible, rammed through on party lines delivered a disastrous outcome that deserves equal notoriety of anything landowners suffered under the Beattie/ Bligh era.

  Across the board in submission and at the hearings [here& here] rural organisations and individual landowners outlined their grave concerns about the Bill and offered constructive suggestions to how improvements could be made. The parliamentary committee chairman, the LNP member for Lockyer, Ian Rickuss failed to make recommendations which took account of these serious concerns.  Numerous submitters and witnesses at public hearings gave personal accounts of the difficulty of securing a satisfactory Conduct and Compensation Agreement (CCA) and the gross imbalance of power. Mr. Rickuss seems to think they were all just whinging. In the debate on Tuesday night Mr. Rickuss displaying his insensitivity to the submissions made said: [page 3061]
Ian Rickuss, member for Lockyer
photo sourced ABC
“What I can say about the conduct and compensation agreements for the landholders is that some of the landholders have to grab these and take control of the agenda. This is what it is about. If they sit down and think about what they have to do with these conduct and compensation agreements and get the appropriate advice, these will be a real win-win for the landholders.”

“I ask landholders to put in a lot of effort into these things.”

Mr. Rickuss is urging landholders to get the appropriate advice and yet the Government has left in a primitive clause in this Act which was meant to “modernise” the resources Acts where landowners can “opt out” of conduct and compensation agreements. This will catch out many landowners who lose their ability to access the Land Court and is binding on future title holders. Landowners need to seek legal advice and not to agree to this option as you lose the ability to call on the umpire, the Land Court, which does its best to be fair.
One would wonder who the minister, Andrew Cripps, believes is appropriate to give advice as he repeatedly slandered legal experts experienced in representing landowners who at their own expense wrote submissions and gave evidence at the hearings.  Under parliamentary privilege Minister Cripps stated that certain legal firms were scaremongering lawyers; legal profession with vested interests; encouraging conflict; attracting and/or protecting their business and were irresponsible.
Property Rights Australia believes that it is the Minister that has been highly irresponsible. Not only are these allegations patronising and insulting but plainly untrue. It is negligent behaviour for the Minister and the Government to discourage landowners to trust experienced legal professionals who are essential to protect landowner rights in negotiations.
The Minister has been misleading in his statements not only before the Bill was passed but in defending it afterwards. Most notable was throughout the debate stating clearly that even though the Bill removes objection rights to small mines that objections can still be made on large mines. In his speech introducing the Bill for its second reading Andrew Cripps did foreshadow the later introduction of further amendments but any informed person would have thought what he was talking about was quite different to what he ultimately introduced. Despite his earlier assurances amongst the amendments was one that effectively has removed the right to object to a large mine as the Coordinator General’s conditions will be considered to address the environmental concerns and therefore almost no one will have the right to object to the Environmental Authority. In effect the Coordinator General will be judge and jury without access to appeal of new resource projects.
Small alluvial gold mine north Queensland

 For the government to talk about small mines as low impact mines is nonsense. There are large mines that affect a large number of people, even entire communities right down to small mines that affect fewer landowners. The impact on the few can at times be severe.

Restricted areas have been severely curtailed and will not exist for most infrastructure unless it is negotiated in a CCA.  Again the minister has been misleading on this subject talking about landowners being left with isolated infrastructure; a Swiss chess affect, he called it. The reduction of restricted areas is of benefit to the resource company rather than the landowner who not only loses protection over important essential infrastructure on their land and privacy around their houses but also loses a very real bargaining chip for the landowner during negotiations. 
No reasonable or responsible person, company or government can expect a landowner to accept damage, loss, contamination or interference to their established business to benefit a resource company.

Property Rights Australia believes that at the very minimum landowners with impacts identified in the EIS should be notified by mail, have the ability to make objections and unimpaired access to the Land Court.

Queensland cannot afford to have property rights of landowners to be sacrificed to ensure the prosperity of the resource industries. 

Property Rights Australia submission

Previous related post


  1. Well said Dale. The LNP has really turned it's back on farmers.

  2. Congratulations on also getting the article published in Qld Country Life, and also on your new role as PRA president, Dale. It seems to be a common cry, when legitimate concerns are aired about any environmental issues these days - from land rights to the Great Barrier Reef in the face of burgeoning resources development - the cry goes up that those genuinely expressing concerns are "influenced and misled by green groups".

    It's a meaningless cop-out.

  3. You're a champion, Dale. Congratulations on your exhaustively researched article. What an unbelievable sell-out of landowners!

    Sure our economy needs industries, but in failing to protect the rural sector to the detriment of our primary industries - as succeeding governments have done in so many ways - the resultant, ongoing threat to our nation's food security ultimately will disadvantage all Australians.

    Even the fact of a Bill being rushed through parliament at 4 minutes to midnight has to make it suspect. This episode reminds me of a similar situation that occurred many years ago. A Bill concerning a raw milk issue was sneakd through parliament just before midnight (when, we were told, most members had either gone home or were half asleep!). If I remember rightly, this occurred shortly after Mike Ahern became Premier. Next evening, the then President of the Queensland Small Businessmen's Association addressed a meeting, which my parents attended, in Gympie and commented: "This is the most socialistic piece of legislation I have seen outside Russia; you'd think it had been devised in the Kremlin itself! And this from a National Party Government!" Again, big business was wielding its iron fist aided and abetted by government.

  4. This is a list of links to articles by legal professionals who have also said that this legislation is deeply flawed.

    Glen Martin, Senior Associate, Shine Lawyers, Toowoomba - Dead-of-the-night changes erode landholder rights to object to mining

    Chris McGrath, Senior Lecturer, University of Queensland - Mining coup in Queensland removes public objection rights

    Stephen Keim QC and Alex McKean, barrister - Clouds over the Sunshine State

    Amy Park, Australian Lawyers Alliance - A voice against threats to mining objection rights in Qld

    Melanie Oliver of Rees Sydney Jones - Watch out you do not Opt Out

    Clayton Utz whose client base would be resource companies rather than landowners - Common Provisions Act: what you need to do to get ready for its imminent commencement.


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