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Land access laws strike “fair balance”, QRC says

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche has released a statement in regards to the ongoing battle between landholders and activists and resource companies.

Mr Roche said the current Queensland land access laws are fair, and provide landholders the opportunity to negotiate terms that can ensure farms either operate at the same, but more likely, at an improved output.

“Negotiation isn’t always easy, but it is in the best interest of all Queensland citizens,” he said.

“If Lock the Gate truly had the farmers’ interests at heart, they would be identifying ways in which the land access laws could be improved, finding ways in which farmers can be helped to negotiate the best agreement for their business.”

Read the full statement below.

 

Statement by QRC Chief Executive Michael Roche

Queensland’s land access laws strike a fair balance. A balance between providing the community the benefits from development of the state’s resource wealth, and respecting the rights of farmers to keep running their businesses.

Queensland’s extraordinary natural endowment of mineral and petroleum wealth belongs to all Queenslanders. A fact, which was well understood when the Australian Constitution was drafted.

Calls by anti-mining, anti-gas group Lock the Gate for an absolute right to veto land access is an extremist position put forward as part of an ongoing campaign against the resources sector in Queensland. It also goes against the property rights enshrined in our Constitution that confirm the resources belong to each and every one of us.

No one is saying that companies should have the right to place gas wells and associated infrastructure where it suits them.

Farmers should have the right to determine who can come onto their land and when, whether they be in search of gas, minerals or coal. That is exactly what our current land access laws do.

Resource companies are required by law to understand a farmer’s business and how they might affect that business before they enter the land. They are also required by law to meet farmers’ reasonable valuation, legal and accounting costs. Moreover, the current laws dictate compensation arrangements for any impacts on the farmer’s business must be agreed by both parties before any impacts occur.

In Queensland more than 5,000 conduct and compensation agreements have been struck since the Land Access Framework was put into effect in 2010. Under these agreements farmers have negotiated compensation agreements totalling hundreds of millions of dollars.

The reality is that current land access laws provide landholders the opportunity to negotiate terms that can ensure farms either operate at the same, but more likely, at an improved output.

Negotiation isn’t always easy, but it is in the best interest of all Queensland citizens. If Lock the Gate truly had the farmers’ interests at heart, they would be identifying ways in which the land access laws could be improved, finding ways in which farmers can be helped to negotiate the best agreement for their business.

The Queensland gas industry provides 5 percent of the state’s employment, with a wages bill of nearly $1 billion. Last financial year, the gas industry spent $9.6 billion on local goods and services with more than 3,500 businesses and provided community contributions to close to 200 community organisations.

The beneficiaries of Queensland’s gas industry are everyday Queenslanders. These are the Queenslanders who enjoy the luxury of lights at night time, hot showers and cold beer at Sunday barbeques. The Queenslanders who travel down well-maintained roads, receive quality hospital care and access to free schooling thanks to mining and gas royalties paid to the state. Queenslanders who own or work in local businesses and are able to enjoy the fruits of gas sector spending flowing through the Queensland economy.

It is vital that there is a clear distinction made between the crude right of veto advocated by Lock the Gate and the more useful right to have a say in how and when land may be accessed. To turn Queensland’s land access laws on their head would be a sure recipe for driving resource investment from our state, and from the nation.

That may be what Lock the Gate wants but it would not be in the interests of ordinary Queenslanders.

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