Report of Property Rights Australia Conference 2013
This year was the 10th anniversary of the inception of PRA. Ashley McKay gave us a brief history of the achievements of the organisation over that time. There is little doubt that without PRA many more families would have had their lives and businesses ruined by the Vegetation Management Act and the spiteful and often illegal way in which it was administered.
PRA stalwart Philip Sheridan gave a clear explanation of the amendments to the Vegetation Management Act. He does warn however that it is still not possible to pull your property from fence to fence. There are still laws and regulations for vegetation clearing although some actions have become self assessable. At the time of the conference the self-assessable codes under the amendments to the Vegetation Management Act were yet to be released. Subsequently the Queensland Government has released the Mulga Lands Fodder Area Management Plan. Those members in the mulga lands need to read this document closely.
There is no doubt that the Government has appreciated the public support by PRA of the amendments to the Vegetation Management Act in the face of a very vicious and sometimes very personal campaign against the Premier by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) with respect to the amendments.
Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Hon. Dr. John McVeigh addressed our Conference as representative for the Premier and told us of the Governments plan for agriculture.
Powerlink was in the spotlight with Gary and Kerry Ladbrook telling us of their experiences. Richard Golden gave an account of the extra difficulty of dealing with multiple resource and infrastructure companies. There are many members who are trying to deal with multiple companies and it takes a great deal of time away from their farm businesses.
“Powerlines, Pipelines and Porky Pies” was the title of the presentation by Tom Marland, solicitor. Tom also summarised a case won on behalf of a client.
Anne Bridle of Basin Sustainability Alliance had a stunning visual presentation of the extent of CSG wells in the Surat Basin. One of her tips was to be very vigilant about testing bores before extraction, not only for what is in them but for what is not in them and for both quantity and quality of water. Basin Sustainability Alliance (BSA) has on their web site a tool that allows you to view CSG well maps and information at your fingertips, for more information click here>> http://www.basinsustainabilityalliance.org/researchlinks.html or email BSA for the file email@example.com.
Trent Hindman spoke to the expert report prepared by DR. Bill Burrows for his appeal.
The media, including social media, like it or not, is extremely important to the way rural industry gets its message across and it must become even more important or our voices will be lost in an avalanche of contra arguments put by environmental and animal welfare groups.
Queensland Country Life deputy editor Troy Rowling gave us some insights into how the urban media thinks and how we may be able to make an impression on them. Alex Sparkes of farmz.com.au, a web site dedicated to rural pursuits, told us of his site and the importance of social media in getting a message across.
Many who attended the Conference expressed appreciation of both the speakers and the opportunity of interaction with others with similar challenges and outlook.
End of report.
Professor Suri Ratnapala has been a critic of the Vegetation Management Act as an example of extremely bad law from its inception. He is a former guest speaker at our Conference. He has now prepared an essay in opposition to the Constitutional Amendment giving formal recognition to local government to be voted on at election time.
Professor Suri Ratnapala goes on to say:
‘The proposed amendment may look innocent but, for the reasons that I have explained, is a calculated assault on the fundamental structure of the Australian Constitution. The Australian federation is a system of vertically divided power in which the Commonwealth and the states have their assured spheres of governance. The federal-state balance that the delegates of the Colonies painstakingly worked out has, since federation, been reweighted in favour of the centre by the High Court’s endorsement of the Commonwealth’s expansive legislative claims. Even so, there remain significant constitutional limits to the Commonwealth’s powers. It may only legislate on specified areas. It can only spend public money for the purposes identified with its legislative sphere. Its so-called nationhood power is limited to situations of national emergency. Importantly, it can make grants of public funds under s 96, as it stands, only to the states and only on conditions that the states are at legal liberty to reject. However, as I have explained, the proposed amendment if enacted will further erode the remaining capacity of the states to manage their own affairs and will further threaten their legal, political and economic existence. If enacted, it will cause irreparable harm to the Australian polity and economy.’
His essay can be found here:
A recent decision of the Land Court involved the Keys, Erbacher and Edmonds families. Unfortunately the initial reports of the case had inaccurate and inflated amounts reported as having been awarded. Queensland Country Life has reported on this story in the past and they did report the decision accurately.
The amounts awarded, although fair were not as generous as originally reported by many media outlets and are only activated if and when Xstrata are given a mining lease which could be well into the future.
The link to the decision on the case is here. http://www.landcourt.qld.gov.au/documents/decisions/MRA305-12%20etc.pdf
Some resources and infrastructure companies are trying to make landowners fearful of going to the Land Court in order to rush them into signing an agreement.
PRA’s observation of the Land Court is that it tries to be fair but it relies on documentation and more documentation. It is essential to keep a diary up to date and a camera handy and record every inconvenience, how long it took to rectify and at what cost. Reasonably incurred costs for solicitors and other professionals are allowed by the legislation. This may require an affidavit from the professional as to why the cost was necessary but the final payout is decided by the Court and not the company.
A message from our Treasurer Trenton Hindman
It is tough times in the cattle industry. Saving a few dollars on farm inputs is a good business decision as long as you don’t compromise farm production.
The PRA / Leader NLIS tag offer at $2.30 plus gst per device is a considerable saving to other brands on the market. Leader products have appox. 30% of the NLIS devices in the Australian cattle herd. I have selected this price point as I know some producers fail to see any value in the device whereas others use them for added production outcomes. This offer is for PRA members only so when your neighbour complains about the price of NLIS tags encourage him to join PRA. Please keep an eye on your emails for the flyer or contact the PRA office.
The BSA AGM will be held on Wednesday 24 July at 3.30pm at the BMO Business Centre in Dalby. The afternoon will also feature guest speakers on groundwater and land access issues. Refreshments and networking will follow after the meeting. A flyer will be emailed separately.
Joanne Rea, Chairman
Property Rights Australia
STAND YOUR GROUND