David Kempton – Wild Rivers and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2007

16th February 2007

The following was compiled by David Kempton, a Lawyer in Cairns who has a long association with PRA and the Cattlemen’s union.

*  The Wild Rivers Act 2005 gives the Minister the power to declare a river after a process of notification and consultations (ss7,11).
*  In making a decision to declare a river the Minister must consider the results of community consultation and submissions (ss 13).
*  The Act establishes a clear process for the exercise of a discretionary power by the Minister to make a decision.
*  This process of consultation and submission ensures affected persons have the benefit of a fundamental rule of law.
Natural Justice or procedural fairness
      “Before a body obliged to afford natural justice may make a determination adverse to a person, it must inform that person of the material before it which is prejudicial to that person’s interests…… so as to afford that person an opportunity of addressing it”
*  The Notice of Intention to Declare of December 2005 was subject of an application for review in the Supreme Court in November 2006 and was withdrawn.
*  A fresh Notice of Intention to Declare was published in December 2006 with submissions to be lodged by 28th February 2007.
*  If the result of community consultation and submissions overwhelmingly rejects the proposed declaration and the Minister makes the declaration in the face of that process then there is an opportunity for the aggrieved persons to have the Minister’s decision review by the Courts.
*  Similarly, if the Minister fails to consult or provide sufficient information to aggrieved persons then they make make application for review.
*  It has become obvious tothe Minister that
        –  The overwhelming outcome of the consultation process and submissions will be opposition to the declaration
        –  The process of notification and consultation preceeding a declaration is flawed
        –  There is no scientific, technical social or economic analysis supporting the proposed declaration
        –  There would be a well considered and concerted legal challenge to the decision to declare which would most certainly bring about judicial review of the Ministers exercise of a discretionary power
*  The Minister and the Premier have pre empted any proper exercise of the Ministers discretion

The Wild Rivers and other Legislation Amendment Bill 2007

Section 54    deems the six documents to be declarations under the Act despite the process of the Act
                         ensures that the wild river areas are declared immediately
                         will make the declaration without the need to complete that second consultation process
                         removes the requirements for the Minister to table the…… declarations or to prepare consultation reports

When passed into law later this month this peice of historic and draconian legislation will take away the fundamental rights of individulas.

The Harris family who purchased Strathmore Station in 2004 for $24m intended to develop a sustainable cattle enterprise utilising less that 1% of overflow water stored off stream and less that 1% of arable land for fodder production enabling them to run 50,000 breeding cattle and provide up to 100 jobs.  The comprehensive conservation based strategy was rejected by Beattie Government and Harris now faces a dire financial furture as a result of this water grab by the State.

The Minister has stated he will consult before making any further declarations and in particular in Cape York.

There can be no doubt the Beattie Government’s intention to declare the Capes rivers is a forgone conclusion and will foreclose on the economic social and cultural aspirations of our future generation.  This will now happen irrespective of any consultation process.

Queenslanders should be very concerned as the Beattie Government has the power and the capacity to legislate in respect of fundamental rights of to use and occupy land.

David Kempton
9th February 2004
Phone (07) 4032 0780
Fax     (07) 4032 1755
Email  dkempton@bigpond.com