Rights to object - QLD Government and Resources Council ignorant or deliberately misleading?

Published: October 06, 2014

The State Government and the Queensland Resources Council are spreading misinformation about people’s rights to object to mining proposals, says Lock the Gate Alliance.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney, LNP Member for Burnett, Stephen Bennett and head of the QRC, Michael Roche claim that amendments - passed around midnight last month without public debate - do not impact people’s rights to object.

Legal experts, however, prove the opposite is true, says Lock the Gate National President, Drew Hutton.

“Jeff Seeney, Stephen Bennett and Michael Roche need to read the Act more carefully,” Mr Hutton said. “They’re either ignorant of the detail of the legislation or they are deliberately misleading people.”

On September 9, Mines Minister Andrew Cripps introduced the amendments one minute before the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill was passed, stripping away long-held rights to object.

Mr Seeney and Mr Roche in letters to Queensland Country Life on October 2 and LNP MP for Burnett, Stephen Bennett in letters to voters in his electorate, claim this is untrue.

Almost all large mines are ‘coordinated projects’ for which the government-appointed Coordinator-General prepares a report. The Cripps amendment gives the Coordinator-General the power to say he is satisfied the conditions for the proposal’s environmental authority have been “adequately addressed”. If he does so, nobody can object further to the environmental authority in the Land Court.

EDO Qld senior solicitor Sean Ryan said by way of example:

The Alpha Coal Mine was part of a coordinated project for which the Coordinator-General issued a report on an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and imposed conditions on the future environmental authority.  There are no rights to object to the Land Court in relation to the EIS.  Graziers within 10km of the mine lodged an objection to the environmental authority and mining lease, primarily about groundwater impacts.  The Land Court agreed that the groundwater assessment by the company for the EIS was inadequate and recommended refusal of the project or further groundwater monitoring in addition to those conditioned by the Coordinator-General.   If the current proposed amendments had been in force the graziers would have had no right to object to the mining lease as they are not within, or adjacent to, the lease area and the Coordinator-General need only say they were satisfied their conditions ‘adequately address the environmental effects’ to prevent all objections to the Land Court on the environmental authority.  Thus the substantial win for the graziers in the Alpha Coal Mine case would not have occurred if these amendments had been in force.

“By giving the Coordinator-General the power to remove the scrutiny of the Land Court, it removes a substantive community right to object to the largest and highest impact mines, contrary to what the LNP and the resources council are claiming,” Mr Hutton said. 

Also see articles by lawyers for landholders:

http://www.queenslandcountrylife.com.au/news/agriculture/general/news/mining-rights-amendments-a-sellout/2712060.aspx

Lawyers for industry:

http://www.claytonutz.com/publications/news/201409/10/new_queensland_resources_common_provisions_legislation_has_been_passed.page

Prominent barristers:

University of Qld’s Dr Chris McGrath:

http://theconversation.com/mining-coup-in-queensland-removes-public-objection-rights-31737

and Stephen Keim SC:

http://www.independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/here-we-joh-again-leopard-newman-removes-rights-to-object-to-mines,6949

 

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