19th February 2013
Last week the Qld Parliament’s State Development, Infrastructure and Industry Committee held hearings from those who placed submissions to its inquiry into the Gasfield Commission Bill 2012.
Property Rights Australia made a submission and it can be found at the Committee’s webpage amongst 16 other submissions. PRA vice chairman, Dale Stiller compiled the submission following consultation with five other people including fellow board members Joanne Rea, Ashley McKay and also Bill Blake of McKays Solicitors.
Dale Stiller and Bill Blake attended the hearing on PRA’s behalf held at Parliament House in Brisbane last Wednesday. The following is Dale Stiller’s opening address to the committee at the hearing. After the opening address the committee asked PRA questions about the submission.
Property Rights Australia represents the interests of landowners specifically the property rights of landowners.
The purpose of the GasFields Commission is stated in the Bill to manage & improve sustainable co-existence.
Current legislation ensures an imbalance of power between Resource Authorities, Landowners and the Community. To date there have been problems with the agricultural industries and the CSG industries coexisting and friction created when trying to exercise the complexities of different parties having different rights over the same patch of ground.
Sustained Agriculture, Water and Community must be the GasFields Commission’s highest priority (or equal priority to that enjoyed by Resource Holders) if real co-existence is to be achieved.
If you the committee fulfil your role to define and enable the GasFields Commission to have a positive, constructive role, then the GasFields Commission will be better empowered to protect the interests of the State, Landowners and the community, particularly with respect to the critical importance of sustainable agriculture and water.
PRA strongly emphasises that the Bill gives the GasFields Commission a lot of power. Our recommended amendments will further increase that power.
Proper checks and balances must be maintained to protect the interests of all parties if real co-existence is to be achieved.
PRA are in principle opposed to a non judicial body having judicial powers. This opposition is compounded when there is no right of appeal through the common court system. This is based on practical experience of the Vegetation Management Act.
When considering PRA’s submissions, we request that the Committee consider that PRA’s recommendations are dependent upon one and other to provide proper checks and balances
Observations of the hearing by Dale Stiller
We arrived at the hearing soon after it started and as we were the last witnesses to be called I saw most that went on.
Appearing before the parliamentary committee John Cotter the Gasfield Commissioner made the observation that
“most of the community was wearing the pain without the gain out of the coal seam gas industry.”
However when asked about the Gasfield commission Bill not having an obligation of referral, John Cotter said that
“the person bringing the complaint forward should take the complaint to the correct regulatory authority.”
I would have hoped that the Gasfield Commission would have a more supportive role than how that came across.
The quote of the day came during Qld Resources Council’s allotted time from a big admission that a QGC executive made when he said,
“Our performance on the export pipeline hasn’t been spectacular. We were aware of it being unspectacular but were unaware just how unspectacular.”
Cotton Australia spokesperson believed correctly that the
“Gasfield Commission must have the approach that this is not two equal powers together”
and later saying that
“The resource sector holds more cards than landholders.”
The Agforce employee backed this up by saying that it was a
“David & Goliath situation.’’
Rich Land Wasteland Books
PRA is currently selling a book “Rich Land Wasteland” by Sharyn Munro as a fundraiser. It is about the effects of mining and CSG and the behaviour of mining and CSG companies and the attitude of government. She recognises the effects on the water table. It covers almost all mining areas in the country and is an easy read. If you would like to purchase a copy at $30 (add $10.00 postage if you would like to help out PRA a little more), give Fiona a call on 07 49 231 430 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org
The Institute of Public Affairs is the oldest think tank in the world and one of the few presenting conservative ideals and independent science consistently on the world stage. It is well worth being a member and many PRA members already are. If you would like to join you can go to join.ipa.org.au it will be a well spent $88. The IPA has published Professor Suri Ratnapala’s paper which we know as Constitutional Vandalism Under Green Cover. Another publication from IPA is All states must follow Queensland and end native vegetation prosecution by Simon Breheny
Joanne Rea, Chairman
Property Rights Australia
STAND YOUR GROUND