In the dead of night on Tuesday 9 September 2014 the Mineral and Energy Resources (Common Provisions) Bill was passed by the Queensland Parliament.
The Bill in its original form had some concerning aspects to it which have now been well documented. However, most alarmingly, at 11.56pm on Tuesday 9 September 2014 Minister Cripps introduced an amendment to the Bill en bloc with other minor amendments without any warning, consultation, debate or the like.
The amendment was to the effect that objections to an environmental authority application will not be allowed where the project is being coordinated by the Coordinator-General and the Coordinator General states conditions for it and he states that he is satisfied that his conditions adequately address the environmental effects of the mine.
This 11th hour amendment goes totally against what the Minister had promised even on the day after the Bill was passed by parliament. During the consultation process, an overwhelming majority of people expressed concerns that almost everyone would lose the right to object to applications for mining leases and 90pc of applications for Environmental Authorities. In response to these concerns, the Minister continually bandied the party line that “people will still be able to object to the big mines through the environmental authority process”. Without any warning at 11.56pm the Minister took that promised right away.
Coupled with the coordinator-general’s ever expanding jurisdiction and the original provisions of the Bill, this 11th hour amendment will mean that there will be virtually no objection rights to any mines in Queensland and for the very few who will have some rights of objection those rights will be so restrictive or miniscule that they could be viewed as not worth the effort.
This Bill, which is soon to become an Act, has created a situation where virtually nobody can now have a say in whether or not a mine goes ahead or its conditions.
In our view the Bill in its original form and the 11th hour amendment are some of the most concerning reforms for landholders to have come before the parliament in years.