Brock flags bill to review land access rights

Member for Frome seeks independent inquiry into mining land access


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Member for Frome Geoff Brock is seeking an independent inquiry to find the best way to balance the rights of landholders with resource companies being able to explore and exploit minerals

Member for Frome Geoff Brock is seeking an independent inquiry to find the best way to balance the rights of landholders with resource companies being able to explore and exploit minerals

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An independent inquiry into the land access rights of the farming and mining sectors could still be on the cards with Member for Frome Geoff Brock planning to introduce a private members bill later this month.

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An independent inquiry into the land access rights of the farming and mining sectors could still be on the cards with Member for Frome Geoff Brock planning to introduce a private members bill later this month.

RELATED: MPs vow to fight on for SA farmers in mining act reform

He gave a notice of intent last week ahead of the House of Assembly's vote on the Statute of Amendments (Mineral Resources) Bill 2018 and will look to introduce it on July 31.

He acknowledges it will not be easy to garner support from both houses to ensure the land access review.

The terms of reference of the bill will include looking at the operations of the Department of Mining and Energy in land access regimes, best practices of jurisdictions interstate and overseas, balancing the rights of landholders with resource companies being able to explore and exploit minerals and inquiring into the administrative and legislative options to achieve best practice for SA.

As legislators we have got a responsibility to make good legislation, we should we be looking at other jurisdications and seeing if they do it better - Geoff Brock, Member for Frome

Mr Brock is also calling for the select committee to be headed up by an independent commissioner rather than a politician.

"When you have two groups (Grain Producers SA and the SA Chamber of Mines & Energy ) with seemingly polarised interests both calling for a review, why not look at it?" he said.

"As legislators we have got a responsibility to make good legislation, we should we be looking at other jurisdictions and seeing if they do it better.

"Have we got the best process in place to benefit both sides?"

Mr Brock said there were many examples of positive dealings between mining companies and landowners but it was important the state's legislation provided a clear way forward where an agreement was not easily reached.

Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell seconded Mr Brock's notice of intent, saying the state government had put the "cart before the horse" by not conducting an independent review prior to the Lower House vote.

He is keen to see the appointment of an independent mining ombudsman to ensure the merits of each mining proposal are looked at on an individual, independent basis rather than lengthy court battles.

"You can't have some government department being the promoter of mining in this state and also the regulator - there is just no trust in the system," Mr Bell said.

"I don't believe in farmers automatically having the right to veto, I can't support that, we all know the state's minerals need to be able to be extracted for the financial benefit of all South Australians, however I also can't accept they should be disadvantaged because they don't have the financial clout to defend these decisions.

"These fights can take years to be resolved and mentally, physically and financially be really draining on people."

Mining and Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the state government would assess Mr Brock's proposal for an inquiry when he provided the details to Parliament. Mr van Holst Pellekaan also said he would engage in ongoing consultation regarding further reforms that could be made to the Mining Act 1971.

Grain Producers SA chair Wade Dabinett reiterated the organisation's call for an independent review, saying these amendments were being inserted into an act that was considered outdated by both the agriculture and mining sectors.

He said the responsibility for agricultural protection needed to be taken away from the Department for Energy and Mining and Mr van Hollst Pellekaan, as these were responsible for growing mining in SA.

He said SA should look interstate, particularly to Qld, WA and NSW, for how to get the balance right.

Mr Dabinett did welcome news of a free advisory service and is hopeful this is operational soon.

"Even before talk of reform, there is a lot of anxiety in the agricultural sector about invasive mining and we need information getting out there," he said.

He said other amendments lauded by the government were simply "tinkering around the edges" and a full governmental review was still required.

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