Law Reform · Access to Justice

Farmers fear loss of rights to appeal mine groundwater impacts

22 July, 2016

Time is running out for the Queensland Labor government to stop controversial LNP water reforms that will strip farmers of their right to appeal proposed mine impacts on precious groundwater supplies.

(ABC Radio PM, Farmers fear Queensland water reforms, Wednesday 20 July).

With reforms to water laws due to be debated in Queensland parliament as early as next month, EDO Qld solicitor Revel Pointon said new information provided to Central Queensland grazier Bruce Currie indicates that he and other farmers stand to lose legal rights to challenge grants of groundwater water to mining companies.

“Our office has been approached by farmers concerned about a permanent loss of vital water supply unless the government steps in and scraps the LNP laws to give statutory rights to associated water to mining companies,” Ms Pointon said.

“With amendments to the the Water Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 expected soon before Parliament the Government has an opportunity to protect our farmers, their objection rights and local ecosystems.

“At present mines need to apply for a water licence and have it approved – as well as have any community objections heard in the Land Court – before the water supply is impacted. This right is at risk of being scrapped.

“New EDO Qld advice to Central Queensland graziers Bruce and Annette Currie indicates these laws will undermine a previous Land Court recommendation in their favour that the Alpha project be refused unless proper water licences were obtained for the mine.

“If the laws go ahead they will also undermine a commitment contained in Alpha’s
Environmental Authority, which also require water licences to be obtained by the miner.

“Now the Curries, and other farmers like them, risk losing their rights to protect their vital water supply.

“Without community objection rights the community will be losing an important check and
balance on decisions that affect precious groundwater resources to the detriment of farmers and ecosystems.

“EDO Qld are currently taking these concerns to relevant Ministers and department staff. We are also talking with landholders and conservation groups, to help them understand how these laws might affect them,” Ms Pointon said.

Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) gives a strong legal voice to the environment when needed most.

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