After years of frustration over the failure by successive Queensland Governments to protect farmers losing their groundwater due to coal and gas mining, Lock the Gate Alliance today launched its Model Make Good Agreement Template for consultation at the Water Summit being held in Dalby by Senator Glenn Lazarus.
"The depletion of groundwater by coal and gas companies is occurring at an alarming rate, adding to the stress and economic hardship already being experienced by many Queensland farmers due to drought," said Paul Winn, spokesperson for Lock the Gate Alliance.
“CSG companies are not taking their Make Good obligations under the Water Act seriously and there are fears the State Government is set to soon renege on its election promises to restore water licensing requirements for coal miners."
Make Good obligations under Chapter 3 of the Water Act 2000 oblige Gas and Petroleum Leaseholders to negotiate Make Good Agreements with landholders whose groundwater risks being impacted by gas drilling and “make good” on the water lost through alternative water access or compensation.
Conditions on coal mines and Land Court decisions frequently impose similar Make Good requirements on coal miners.
“Make Good obligations were the trade-off for farmers who risk losing access to groundwater due to CSG extraction. But the Agreements we've seen to date literally hang farmers out to dry,” he said.
"None of them provide adequate alternatives for licenced water users who lose groundwater, leaving many with no option but to throw the dice and take CSG companies to the Land Court to try and salvage their livelihoods.
"The Palaszczuk Government looks set to nod along behind Campbell Newman in backing coal and CSG over Queensland farmers and water supplies. We want to change that.
"We hope that this Make Good Agreement Template can be used by Queensland farmers to get a better deal from CSG companies and force the Palaszczuk Government to amend Part 3 of the Water Act so that farmers get a fair go in negotiations.
"The government needs to deliver on its pre-election promises to prevent coal miners from being given the right to an unlimited take of groundwater, and should also act to impose strict Make Good obligations on coal companies impacting on farm businesses across the state."