Tuesday 27th September 2016
From tomorrow, 27/9/16, it will be possible to sign an opt-out agreement with a resources company. PRA and all of our sponsoring solicitors have campaigned to have them removed from the legislation. They are a travesty.
We strongly urge landowners, no matter how much CCA negotiation fatigue you may have not to sign one. If you do, use the cooling off period to get some specialist legal advice and/or cancel it.
It will be a case of giving away almost all of your rights although Governments and resources companies may well try to persuade you otherwise.
Although you will have a small number of statutory rights you lose access to the Land Court to settle disputes.
The opt-out agreement will go on your land title for the length of the project unless specific conditions change and it binds successors and assigns.
It does not lapse if ownership of the resources company changes hands nor if your property changes hands.
Some of the calls PRA gets are about long term amicable relationships with small companies. Then the owner sells out, retires or passes away and a new owner or company takes over and what was previously a good working relationship turns to dust.
Another problem is that this very important and binding agreement can be signed by an “occupier” who is simply, according to the definition, someone who is occupying the place with the owner’s permission. This allows too simple a giving away of rights for such an important document. There are places in resources legislation where documents of much less importance are required to be signed by each owner and each occupier.
If you are just unable to negotiate a Conduct and Compensation Agreement because of stressors in your life or business, ask your solicitor about a deferral agreement. For good reasons solicitors often advise against these agreements but at least you get a chance to revisit it again at some time in the future. This is not the case with opt-out.
There is a VERY good reason why PRA and solicitors working for our clients have campaigned against opt-out agreements being available.
No new applications for High Value Agriculture are being approved. Even though one of the major objections by environmental groups has been potential damage to the Great Barrier Reef, it has not stopped the Government from rejecting a well-made application by a landowner whose property is not in a Great Barrier Reef catchment but the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The Federal Department of environment is still harassing the largest HVA permit holders.
The beef sustainability which grew out of the beef square table is now in a phase where they are consulting with retailers, public groups and consumers about what they regard as sustainability. (Apparently, consultation with producers has already occurred over the last three months.)
PRA would like to ask members to get involved in this consultation if they can. There is no doubt that every green organisation that has been campaigning for the Vegetation Reinstatement Bill, having landholders evicted from former forestry leases, calling for prosecution of High Value Agriculture permit holders under Commonwealth legislation and publishing their names and addresses on the internet, as well as animal rights groups who want to shut down not only live export but all livestock industries, will be jockeying for a position.
Self Assessable Codes
The self-assessable codes are all under review. PRA believes that all were working well and do not need any change. However green groups want their pound of preference flesh and want everything tightened. The Government is obliging.
PMAV’s and Blue areas
Members are finding blue circles on their PMAVs. They are areas which supposedly have small numbers of flora protected under Commonwealth legislation and you are expected to protect it. As often as not the claimed vegetation is not there or it is a different species to that claimed. A consultant should be able to clarify that but a legitimate question is “why should landowners have to pay for a consultant?” We will have more on this question in future Newsletters.
Property Rights Australia
Phone: 07 49 214 000
Fax: 07 49271 888
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