Land reforms slammed over diminished risk notification
SWEEPING reforms before the Queensland Parliament which claim to improve protection for regional land owners have been met with wide-spread condemnation.
More than 50 people have made submissions to the Agriculture, Resources and Environment Committee, which will hold a public hearing into the controversial Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill, on Wednesday in Brisbane.
The proposal represents the first stage in the government's bid to re-write and modernise the state's existing resources legislation.
Natural Resources Minister Andrew Cripps said, when introducing the legislation in June, the reforms were aimed at adopting a new framework for managing the state's overlapping coal and petroleum tenures to facilitate co-existence of the coal mining and coal seam gas industries.
However, opponents have highlighted several points of conjecture contained in the legislation, namely reducing public objection rights to environmentally risky projects deemed to be low risk and scrapping the need for public notifications for 90% of projects across the state.
Under the new legislation only projects deemed to be high risk will require public notification.
Public notification is now required for all proposed projects and any person or group is entitled to object.
Shine Lawyers, in its submission to the committee, said it had been involved in negotiating hundreds of land-access arrangements in the past six years for landholders across the state.
It said proposals in the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill were extremely concerning.
"The government has made and continues to make promises that the idea of the reforms is to harmonise the various pieces of legislation and that no landholders will be worse off unless they agreed to be," the submission said.
"Unfortunately, the proposals do not live up to that promise but rather almost entirely make landholders worse off.
"We are of the view that many of the clauses contained in the bill do not have sufficient regard to the rights and liberties of individuals."
Cotton Australia, the peak body for Australia's cotton growing industry and represents more than 500 cotton farming families across the state, said in its submission the proposal as it stood potentially reduced the rights of landholders.
It strongly objected to any weakening of transparency, fairness or oversight.
"The aims of the bill are supported, namely to consolidate common provisions and processes, as we see advantages for growers in standardising, simplifying and removing duplication in frameworks and processes that are common," its submission said.
"However, these efficiency gains must not come at the expense of landholder rights."
The LNP dominated Agriculture, Resources and Environment Committee must deliver its finding before August 30.