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Land Access – Don Stiller

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Don Stiller has negotiated Conduct and Compensation Agreements (CCAs) with more than 10 resource companies to date, all with tenements over his properties in the Wandoan and Guluguba areas in south-west Queensland. He has agreements for two gas pipeline easements, two camp sites for temporary workers, CSG exploration wells and a field compression station.

Mr Stiller said the first information he knew about upstream CSG development was when a representative of a company showed up on his door step and informed him he was going to have wells or pipelines on his land.

“When landholders were told that the Surat Basin was going to be developed as a gasfield, they had no concept of the enormity of the project,” he said.

“I believe had the companies, and indeed the government, been more upfront with information some of the grief that landholders experienced could have been avoided. Compensation, the rights of property owners and guidelines for negotiation were all but nonexistent, so as a result some very poor agreements where entered into, which has caused a lot of tension on the ground. A lot of fences have to be mended, to build trust and respect between all parties again.”

One of Mr Stiller’s first strategies as a Commissioner has been to develop a checklist of items for landholders to consider prior to negotiating with a CSG proponent. It includes some of the key clauses he has built into his own agreements over the years such as requesting a suitable review period for the CCA.

Commissioners discussed the check-list items during their 1 November meeting and analysed if they were present in the government’s Land Access Review panel report recommendations, submitted in February this year.

Commissioner Stiller’s check-list corresponded to recommendations 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10 and the Commission resolved to play an active role in guiding State Government agencies as they implement these recommendations:

Recommendation 4: Government implement a mechanism to support landholders and resource companies to develop and use a detailed work plan describing both parties’ activities on the land.

Recommendation 5: Government appoint an independent third party or organisation to clarify what are ‘reasonable and necessary professional costs to negotiate a Conduct and Compensation Agreement (CCA)’, initially by establishing a database of legal and other professional fees.

Recommendation 6: Government work with the resource and agricultural sectors to develop standard CCAs by industry for coal, CSG and minerals.

Recommendation 9: Government review the scope of ‘compensatable effects’.

Recommendation 10: Government review technical issues to make improvements in the process.

The full report is available at http://mines.industry.qld.gov.au/assets/native-title-pdf/Land_Access_Review_Panel_report.pdf

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