4th December 2014
ResourcesQ 30-year vision and action plan
Premier Campbell Newman and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Andrew Cripps on Friday November 28, 2014 issued a joint media release called, Strong plan to supercharge the resources sector that announced the existence of a fully-fledged ResourcesQ 30-year vision and action plan.
Having read all of its 44 pages I can say that it lays out a developed strategy to enhance the resource sector at all costs. ResourcesQ reveals that there is really one pillar to the Qld economy considered important; the other 3 are viewed as mere struts to support the one. Any traditional purpose of any government department is subordinate as a partner support role to ‘Lead’ agencies in a bid to “positioning Queensland as a global resources leader.” The plan even states that school curriculum will be changed to reflect, “The importance of resources to Queensland.”
Agriculture and landowners are but for a brief couple of sentences not mentioned. The language of the plan conveys an arrogance of a neo terra nullius for the ResourcesQ partners, the Queensland Resources Council (QRC), Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) and the Association of Mining Exploration Companies (AMEC) together with the Queensland government to conquer “large areas of under-explored land.” Agriculture is mentioned as one sector amongst others to be targeted to “foster synergies and cross-industry collaboration.”
This is an unyielding master plan that brings clarity to why the very reasonable requests by landowners for a variation of the railroad route across the Belyando floodplain were completely ignored; why the resources acts are being changed to meet the wants of resource companies at the cost of the rights of others; why the water act purpose was changed and all resource industries have been given unrestricted access to associated water.
Media release: http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2014/11/28/strong-plan-to-supercharge-the-resources-sector
ResourceQ plan, [large 8.6 MB file, don’t try on slow internet speeds]: https://www.dnrm.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/228973/resourcesq-vision-plan.pdf
Water Act by Joanne Rea
The parliamentary committee that examined the reforms to the Water Act did a very thorough job in its deliberations and made several recommendations with respect to “make good “ agreements which is the topic that PRA submitted on in this very long Act.
PRA submitted that even though statutory “make good’ Provisions were introduced for low risk projects which were not required to submit an Underground Water Impact Report (UWIR), that report was the basis from which to move forward for “make good” so we asked what the starting point was for the statutory right. The committee has recognised the concern and made a recommendation.
The committee recommends that the Bill be amended to universally require the preparation of an underground water impact assessment report or baseline assessment, as the basis for the introduction of make good arrangements. This necessitates the omission of exemptions proposed in the Bill with respect to existing mines, low risk activities (not yet defined), and bore trigger thresholds.
In his second reading speech, Minister Cripps immediately informed the house that the recommendations that he would not be moving were those regarding “make good” provisions. Therefore the above recommendation by the parliamentary committee was not reflected in the legislation.
The committee brought these points forward. They do not fully address the concerns of PRA in that paying for expert modelling is a very expensive exercise, beyond the pockets of the vast majority of landowners and no provision has been made for reimbursement. We appreciate that concerns have been recognised. They have not however been taken up or acknowledged by the Minister.
Point of clarification
The committee invites the Minister to comment on the onus of proof for make good agreement under the Bill in providing equity for affected parties, such that:
1. Where the resource company accepts that a bore will, or will likely be, impacted at some stage in the project, make good measures are specified immediately and provided.
2. If a landholder can demonstrate through water impact reports or modelling that there are
reasonable grounds to consider that their bore could be adversely impacted by the mining activity in the life of the project; if the resource company cannot prove otherwise, make good measures are to be specified immediately and provided.
3. If a landholder can demonstrate through water impact reports or modelling that there are
reasonable grounds to consider that their bore could be adversely impacted by the mining activity in the life of the project; if this is not accepted by the resource company, then a make good agreement should provide an appropriate monitoring regime, unless impairment then arises which require make good measures.
4. If a landholder can demonstrate through water impact reports or modelling that there are
reasonable grounds to consider that their bore could be adversely impacted by the mining activity in the life of the project; if the resource company can prove that the bore/s will not be impaired, then the landholder must await an actual impairment before being entitled to make good measures.
Point of clarification
The committee invites the Minister to comment on the onus of proof for make good agreements under the Bill in providing that a project need only be a cause or contributor to the impairment for an entitlement to make good measures, in recognition of hydrogeological uncertainties.
Point of clarification
That committee invites the Minister to comment on options to improve confidence in the
arrangements set out for water monitoring authorities, including the use of accredited third party bodies.
With respect to “water monitoring authorities” PRA, at the parliamentary hearing submitted that having the tenement holder as the monitoring authority with legislated rights including that it may plug a monitoring bore at any time was not providing a disinterested party as the determinant of affected bores, particularly when the onus of proof is on the landowner. There is also no provision in the legislation for reimbursement of expert advice including hydrologists if they have an underperforming bore.
Point of clarification
The committee invites the Minister to comment on the efficacy of existing make good agreements programs, in proposing their introduction under the Water Act, and to comment on any plans for an outcomes evaluation after a reasonable period when negotiation of a number of make good agreements has occurred.
The committee obviously observed some unease with the “make good” process and sought a review at some time in the future. The Minister’s response was,
The committee also sought clarification as to the efficacy of existing make-good agreements and if there are any plans for an outcomes evaluation after a reasonable period when the negotiation of a number of make-good agreements has occurred. I am not aware of any make-good agreements where parties have been dissatisfied and taken their concerns to the Land Court. Therefore, it would appear that the efficacy of existing make-good arrangements has not been formally contested.
Concerns with “make good” were comprehensively outlined by solicitor Peter Shannon on behalf of Basin Sustainability Alliance but no problems have been noted by the Government. There is no doubt that a lot of social disruption is likely to occur before all problems are resolved. http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/committees/AREC/2014/26-WaterReformOLA14/tp-29Oct2014-Shannon.pdf
The committee report can be found at http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/Documents/TableOffice/TabledPapers/2014/5414T6459.pdf
The Minister’s second reading speech can be found at http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/hansard/2014/2014_11_25_DAILY.pdf
Below is a section of transcript from the parliamentary committee hearing in Brisbane.
Time frames are too long, particularly in the event of a cataclysmic event. The practical reality is that resources companies do not construct make-good bores in a timely manner and try to get landowners to accept money instead. Our belief is that this then becomes new infrastructure and is no longer covered by make-good provisions, because it is treated differently under the act. I stand to be corrected on that if I am wrong.
CHAIR: No, you are right.
Ms Rea: Landowners bear the onus of proof that resources companies are responsible for loss of quality or quantity of water in the event of a serious dispute. Reasonable access to proof has been curtailed, if anything, by this bill. The water monitoring authority, rather than being the government or an independent authority, is to be the resources company. Involvement of the government seems limited and, I must say, it seems unwilling. Even if this was a contest between two players of equal size and financial strength, which it is not, this legislation has one party on an uneven footing already, with the resources company the holder of the hydrogeological and water monitoring information, with severe penalties for anyone who may interfere with a monitoring bore, which remains the property of the resources companies and may be plugged by such company at any time without reference to anyone.
Galilee Basin State Development Areas by Kerry Ladbrook
The Parliamentary Committee report to Parliament contained only one recommendation “The committee recommends the Legislative Assembly notes the contents of this report “ and six points requested for clarification from the Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning.
The committee report can be found on the following link:
This news article “Apology but no joy for Galilee Basin landholders” published on the 10th November details insights into the report by both committee member, Bruce Young, member for Keppel, and John Burnett, a Clermont beef producer after the report was presented to parliament on the 29th October.
With discussions detailed in Parliament on the 25th November by the Deputy Premier in Hansard “Following the declaration of the Galilee Basin state development area, proponents approached the Coordinator-General about facilitating the undertaking of temporary works on land within the Galilee Basin state development area. Amendments to the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act will facilitate projects within a state development area to clarify the application of the existing powers of the Coordinator-General to grant access for the purposes of works within that area,” it would suggest little change if any will occur as a result of the public hearing process.
In regard to Compulsory acquisition, negotiation and consultation the Parliamentary Committee Report did detail the following which may be beneficial for landholders who are yet to resolve compensation or alignments within the SDA to understand:
Land within an SDA is acquired in accordance with the provisions of the Acquisition of Land Act 1967 (ALA).19 The main steps of the compulsory land acquisition process are:20
1. Notice of intention to resume.
2. Objections to land acquisition.
3. Application to acquire land.
Strategic Cropping Lands
Assurances were given about the protection from mining & CSG for good quality soils at this media release hosted by 3 government ministers near Dalby in October when an extra 40% was added to the Strategic Cropping Land trigger mapping.
PRA has been seeking clarification of just how many landowners will be eligible for protection under SCL with PRA chairman Dale Stiller quoted in this article.
Property Rights Australia would welcome the Deputy premier, Jeff Seeney to clarify if landholders are protected under Strategic Cropping Land where there has already been a resource lease granted and an environmental authority approved over their area. PRA’s primary concern is the interests of its members and the property rights of landowners in general. PRA will happily accept assurances if it can be clearly shown in the Regional Planning Interests Act and associated regulations with no ambiguity that allows resource company lawyers to place pressure on landholders. What is written in legislation and how the court views the relevant sections is the most important consideration for the many years to come while this Act is in force.
Dale Stiller, Chairman
Property Rights Australia
Phone: 07 49213430
Fax: 07 49213870
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