Law Reform · Access to Justice

Have your say: Proposed removal of community rights to object to mines

27 June, 2014

Submissions to the Parliamentary Committee are now open until 5pm, Wednesday 9 July. 

To make it easy for you, here is a template submission.

You will need to add your name, address, phone number and signature. We suggest you add a paragraph about yourself or your group at the start. The Committee requirements are set out here

Please let us know if you have made a submission at edoqld@edo.org.au

You may want to tell the Premier at Premier@ministerial.qld.gov.au or Minister Cripps at Nrm@ministerial.qld.gov.au what you think on this issue!

Officers of the Department of Natural Resources and Mines briefed the committee on the Bill on 25 June 2014. Download the transcript here.

Background

The current law provides for public notification of all proposed mines and any person or group is entitled to object to the proposed mine and have the objection heard in open court. This Bill proposes to significantly reduce legal rights for landholders and the general community.

The Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill 2014, was introduced to Queensland Parliament on 5 June as part of a larger ‘Governing for Growth ’initiative. In the Bill, the Queensland Government proposes to remove public notification and community rights to object to the Queensland Land Court for, in effect, 90% of proposed mines. By contrast, the current law provides for public notification of all proposed mines and any person or group is entitled to object to the proposed mine and have the objection heard in open court.

Why would the government reduce public objection rights to environmentally risky projects when community scrutiny is  a valuable safeguard against corruption? The Government asserts that “the current situation is inequitable to miners” and proposes changes to the law to “speed up” project approvals and “reduce the regulatory burden” for the mining sector.

Thanks to your efforts, in March  a clear majority of public submissions lodged on the discussion paper were against the proposal (at least 100 of 176 total submissions). As many of us know, mining projects (including their associated infrastructure) are some of the biggest and most environmentally risky activities in Queensland, if not the whole of Australia.

The most troubling aspects of this Bill are:

  • Only ‘affected persons’ will be able to object to the decision to grant a mining lease tenure. This does not even include neighbours, unless their land is needed for access;
  • Only ‘high risk’ mines will be publicly notified for objection on environmental grounds which is predicted to be only 10% of mines in Queensland. This means that for 90% of mines existing public objection rights will be lost; and
  • Landholder consent provisions currently in place for ‘restricted land’ (basically, land nearby to homes and businesses) will be totally removed where the proposed mine is open cut.