2nd September 2014
Property Rights Australia has had its first Board meeting since the AGM. As usual new office bearers have been elected.
Congratulations to our new Chairman, Dale Stiller. Dale is quite possibly the hardest working Board member that PRA has ever had. He has many submissions to Government and associated parliamentary hearings to his name, a great deal of research across PRA areas of interest, articles on the internet and he has started a Property Rights Australia page which highlights articles and newspaper items about various issues relevant to us. The importance of social media in making contact both with members and the outside world cannot be overestimated.
Ashley Mackay, who is almost retired took some persuading to be our Vice-Chairman but we convinced him that we needed an “eminence gris” or elder statesman with a “corporate” memory, a cool head and wise advice.
Trent Hindman is the Secretary with Joanne Rea as Treasurer.
The AGM at Conference passed a motion that created a new position for a Membership & Promotions Officer. The AGM elected to this position Wyandra member, Tricia Agar. PRA needs all members and potential members to maintain support. The issues for landowners just keep on coming.
PRA has been highly critical of the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill 2014 which is attempting to roll 5 existing Acts into one but is doing so without proper consideration of the effects on landowners, their businesses and their families. Many of the glaring issues have been canvassed in the Country Life both by us and by solicitors specialising in the field. Many of the solicitors, as well as PRA put in submissions to the parliamentary inquiry. They can be found here. PRA submission is number 202.
I hope that all our members have had enough information over time that they will not embark on any agreement with any resources company without the advice of a solicitor experienced in the relevant matters.
Two of the provisions of the Common Provisions Bill which stand out for us but have not received a lot of attention are that an “access agreement” can be made verbally even where permanent damage can be caused. This agreement is binding and can be put on a register for future owners and resources companies to act on (not sure how this will work as the agreement will be verbal). Be very aware if you verbally give permission for and action, of the effect on the future value of your property and even if you get on well with the present resource operator how things could change with a different and less co-operative resource operator.
The other potential problem is and “Opt Out “agreement which means that you opt out of making a Conduct and Compensation Agreement (CCA) with a resources company. The Act puts a limited range of statutory protections in place but considering the number of landowners who have various degrees of difficulty having resources companies abide by properly signed CCA’s one must wonder how difficult it would be to have general protections invoked particularly as you lose all rights to take the resource operator to the Land Court. We see opportunities for some very poor outcomes for landowners here if they are persuaded to by resource companies to go down either of these paths.
PRA has labelled this Common Provisions Bill the greatest attack on landowner’s rights since the Vegetation management Act.
It is not however the only proposed Act which contains ticking time bombs. The proposed amendments to the Water Act will entrench the resources companies as judge, jury and expert witness if you lose your underground water.
Do not be surprised if, at some future date PRA needs to use its fighting fund to help fund an expert witness on behalf of a landowner or landowners. This is a cost that would be beyond the resources of most landowners. The Government claims that “make good” agreements are a commercial arrangement between landowner and resources company so don’t expect any help there. Once again, do not attempt to negotiate this slippery slope without suitably experienced legal advice.
Thank you for your continuing support.
Property Rights Australia Inc