Recently P&E Law voiced its strong concern to the Queensland Government about plans to proceed with two of the previous government’s changes to landowner rights for mining and exploration.
In 2014 the Newman LNP government passed laws including the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Act 2014 (the MERCP Act) significantly eroding landowner’s rights including:
(a) curtailing the right to object to the grant of new mining leases;
(b) introducing “opt-out agreements” and
(c) abolishing the 600m rule.
The majority of the MERCP Act is un-commenced. Changes to the mining objection process have been unwound with the recent repeal of section 47D from the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971.
However the Queensland Government appears to be pressing ahead with two significant changes in the MERCP Act despite strong opposition – introducing “Opt Out Agreements” and abolishing the 600m rule for exploration around a residence.
Already there is an unequal bargaining position between sophisticated CSG and mining companies and landowners. Opt Out Agreements will:
(a) allow CSG companies to access land and undertake high-impact, long-term CSG mining without the need for a comprehensive agreement (Conduct and Compensation Agreements or CCA’s);
(b) disregard the current minimum statutory requirements for CCA’s;
(c) deny landowner’s access to paid independent professional advice about matters such as access, compensation, and interference with lawful farming practices; and
(d) remove the Land Court’s ability to adjudicate where there is a dispute between a CSG company and a landowner, or where there is a material change.
P&E Law is of the view that the current framework needs to be strengthened to better protect landowners, not further weakened. We have seen CSG companies engage in unfair conduct and unconscionable conduct. Removing landowner protections will see an increase in this type of behaviour.
P&E Law presented a submission to the State government opposing the changes and suggesting alternate reforms to help stamp out unfair practices.
If you are concerned about these proposed reforms we encourage you to contact the Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, the Hon Anthony Lynham MP, to voice your objections: firstname.lastname@example.org.