Gasfields Commission awaits advice on occupier’s rights

James Nason, 25/09/2012

The Queensland Gasfields Commission says it will act if legal advice confirms that recent changes to state legislation have eroded landholder rights to compensation.

Rural solicitor Peter Shannon has raised concerns that amendments made to the Queensland  Petroleum & Gas Act late last month may have reduced the rights of landholders who operate under  partnerships or family trust structures to access compensation from negative CSG impacts.

His comments have trigged accusations of scare mongering from groups aligned with the coal seam gas industry, and the Queensland Government has also maintained that the recently-passed Streamlining Amendment Bill was not intended to reduce landholder rights.

However, the Government is currently seeking legal advice to ascertain whether the changes could have the effect Mr Shannon believes.

Southern Queensland landholder and community representative group the Basin Sustainability Alliance says the differing legal interpretations over how the amendments could affect landholder rights mean that urgent clarity is needed, and has called on the recently established Queensland Gasfield Commission to look into the issue.

The commission’s general manager Andrew Brier told Beef Central yesterday that it appeared there was no intent by the Government to limit the legitimate business interests of landowners from accessing compensation from negative CSG impacts.

“But having said that, the commissioners are obviously concerned about anything that might erode land holders rights,” Mr Brier said.

“The NRM (Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines) is seeking legal advice at the moment, to make sure that there are no unintended impacts of consequences from that change in definition.

“We’ll review that legal advice when it comes in, but rest assured that the commissioners will be ensuring that there is nothing which actually limits legal entities such as partnerships and so on from accessing the entitlements to compensation.”

He said that if the advice confirms that the recent amendments could curb landholder rights, the Queensland Gasfields Commission would make representations to Minster Cripps to ensure the loss of entitlement was fixed.

“If there is anything there that looks like it is eroding rights, or limiting compensation, then the commission would definitely be taking action to actually make sure that was rectified.”

Mr Brier said the legal advice was expected within the next two weeks. 


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