Members’ Newsletter 26th April 2016

26th April 2016

**Date Claimer – 2016 PRA Conference **
Date – Friday June 10th; Meet & Greet on the evening before
Venue – Charters Towers
More details to come, in the meantime – mark your calendars; book a room; plan to be there.
Accommodation –

Introducing new board member – Mrs Annie Clarke MAICD
The PRA board meeting on March 30, formally voted for Annie Clarke to join the board.

Annie has extensive experience in leadership positions in Local Government as Mayor, Burke Shire Council (15 years), Councillor and Deputy Mayor (18 years); represented Burke Shire Council and the North West region of Qld on many committees and boards.  Most recently as a director of the North West Hospital and Health Services Board, a committee member of Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health.  Annie has also held executive positions with community groups and other not-for-profit organisations.

Annie was a presenter at a PRA conference in Roma 2011 and now has been thrown in the deep end as coordinating the upcoming conference in Charters Towers on June 10.

Petition against changes to Vegetation Management Act
Please consider going to the link below to sign the digital petition or contact the PRA office for a copy that you can sign with a biro and sent in by post.

The Palaszczuk Government’s proposed changes are flawed; the justifications used by the government when placed into context are tenuous.  Yet these changes are harsh, punitive and are inconsistent with the Legislative Standards Act requirements of basic legal protections.

Click on this link to add your names to this Qld state parliament e-petition.  Anyone who is old enough to understand the issue in your family can & should sign the e-petition as individuals and can use the same email address but must be a resident of Queensland
Look for e-petition no. 2569-16 –

Restoration Notices under the Vegetation Management (Reinstatement) Bill 2016
In researching for writing the PRA submission on this Bill, Joanne Rea has found another nasty element that has not yet been mentioned in the media.

Compliance Notices have always been issued under the Vegetation Management Act and PRA has argued against them from the beginning and they have been frequently been abused by Departmental officers.

With this new Bill they have reached a whole new level of concern.

In the Interim Period (from 17th March, 2016 to proclamation) there will not be an offence of illegal clearing but before you start the bulldozer take a minute to read this.

A Restoration Notice can be issued to anyone where an authorised officer has a reasonable belief that illegal clearing has occurred.  There is no need for a Court Case or a trial in front of a Magistrate.  No provision is made for an appeal.

However, and this is the kicker, the penalties as we knew them before have been substantially magnified.

If an authorised officer even considers that you have cleared illegally in the Interim Period, there will be no fine to pay as under the existing legislation.  But you may be asked to restore or offset multiples of the area that you have cleared or alternatively there may be a cash payout and the payouts are enormous, depending on regionally based ecosystems, habitats and various other features.

VM Reinstatement Bill effect of approved permit holders for High Value Agriculture

The following advice is thanks to David Kempton, Consultant.

All landowners with development approvals for clearing native vegetation for high value agriculture (and irrigation) should ensure the clearing has substantially commenced before the 2 year period for commencement expires.

The clearing must start within 2 years of the date of the approval according to the Sustainable Planning Act 2009 and no extensions are being granted.

There is no definition as to what substantially commenced means however it would be prudent to have competed no less than 30 -40 % of the area of the approved by the second anniversary of the approval date.

Nature Conservation Act trigger maps

Yet another thing to worry about that Tom Marland informed PRA about before it was reported on the Queensland Country Life

“Amendments to the Nature Conservation Act in 2014, saw 5.2 million hectares of land throughout Queensland affected by “trigger mapping” designed to prevent clearing of protected plants and vegetation.

“Trigger mapping overrides clearing approvals under the Vegetation Management Act including areas locked in as Category X on Property Maps of Assessable Vegetation,” Mr Marland said.  Even if no protected species are present in the area, it is illegal to clear within a trigger map area without a permit.

“Landholders may unwittingly be clearing areas in full compliance with the Vegetation Management Act but may be in breach of the Nature Conservation Act.”  Fines range from $25,000 to $355,000 per breach.

Mr Marland said it was another insidious encroachment on rural landholders and their ability to manage vegetation on their property.”

This is the link to check if there is any protected flora surveyed on your land

Hearing for Mineral & Other Amendments Bill

Remember the Newman government MERCP Bill that PRA spoke out strongly against.  It took away many landowner rights in favour of the resource companies.  The Palaszczuk government promised to fix the wrongs of the MERCP and they tabled the MOLA Bill which has fell short of doing so.  The distance that resource activity could be conducted away from a home remained at only 200metres.  Also retained were Opt – out agreements to which PRA is against.  This is the transcript (link below) of the Rockhampton hearing.  Joanne Rea represented PRA.  Second to appear was Fiona Hayward from Biloela.  Lastly at the hearing was Melanie Finlay of Rees R Sydney Jones.

Environmental Protection (Chain of Responsibility) Amendment Bill 2016.
In the last newsletter there was information about how as it stands the landowner was listed as a “related person” and could be made to pay for the clean-up of a resource project that had been on their property.  The Parliamentary Committee has recognised this “drafting problem” and its report has recommended for Parliament to amend the offending clause.

Hopeland landowner’s Linc Energy contamination class action
PRA chairman, Dale Stiller attended the community meeting in Chinchilla on April 17.

On Friday 15th Linc Energy went into voluntary administration and then later on April 19 the Qld government announced the permanent banning of any Underground Coal Gasification activity.  Some weeks prior in the Dalby magistrate court Linc Energy were committed to trial on 5 charges of severe environmental harm.  In light of these recent events, it is possible that the government may not proceed with this prosecution.

None of these events will prevent landowners to seek to recover significant future losses through a class action.  A class action appears to be one of the few, if not the only way, that Hopeland landowners will find redress.  There is no provision for government to pay the affected landowners even if they proceeded with a prosecution and won.

Tom Marland has taken this very large case on.

PRA Networks – CU Group
The PRA board continues to develop a network of specialists to seek advice from and refer inquiry to.  Tom Marland as mentioned above is one of our qualified legal contacts.

With the complexities of attention being applied to landowners through the Vegetation Management Act, Nature Conservation Act and the Federal EPBC Act there is often the need for ecology consultants.

Introducing CU Group and Company Director, Patrice Brown.  Patrice is the daughter of the late John Purcell, a former chairman of PRA.  CU Group can undertake flora surveys and map preparation including PMAVs.  They can also assist with contamination investigations such as for dip sites.

Contact for Rockhampton office T: 4922 9252; F: 4922 0195; E: ; W:


Dale Stiller

Dale Stiller, Chairman

Property Rights Australia

Phone:  07 49 214 000
Fax:       07 49271 888

Members' Newsletter 26th April 2016