Queensland Resources Council (QRC) CEO Michael Roche claims that gas companies have fully complied with “make good” requirements for bores on one of George Bender’s properties, including – he stressed – bores which had not been used for 10 years. This is far from being generous. A bore not in current use serves as a reserve in the case of drought or other water crisis. As much as some resources companies try to disregard such reserves in negotiations – forcing some property owners into accepting an inequitable situation – they are a legitimate asset for the purposes of “make good” agreements.
Mr Roche also makes no mention at all of Origin Energy’ refusal to negotiate “make good” on an approval (and water allocation) granted to the Bender family to drill a bore into the affected Walloons. Yet the Bender family only claimed compensation for the extra drilling to the next viable aquifer. A water allocation is a property right and any diminution should be compensated.
“Make good” arrangements are clearly not working as well as Mr Roche claims when the Bender bores were within the Immediately Affected Area in the Surat Underground Water Impact Report. Such a status should have made “make good” straightforward but it took 6 months to establish a baseline and 12 months of negotiation before an agreement was signed.
Mr Roche omitted to mention that – in this instance – part of the delay in “make good” is because Origin attempted to access the property to commence scheduled work in circumstances which were a clear breach of weed bio-security requirements in the agreement just signed. Furthermore, for reasons unknown to the Benders, the Government granted several extensions to the company in attending to their decommissioning obligations.
It is not the Bender family holding up completion of this work. They have expressed a desire to get the job done and make safe bores releasing high volumes of gas. How much more time and stress would it take to attain meaningful “make good” for landowners outside an IAA?
Property Rights Australia maintains the position that the first priority in “make good” must be a clean, reliable source of water to support a sustainable industry.
Mr Roche’s claim that the public debate is being hi-jacked is an attempt to polarise the parties and exclude the real concerns of farmers about issues such as the inadequacies of “make good”.
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