Queensland Government gives free legal aid to landholders

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The Queensland government is investing $300,000 to provide free legal aid to central Queensland landholders in their dealings with resource companies over land access and compensation.

 Minister for Employment, Skills, and Mining Stirling Hinchliffe said the Bligh Government recognised the commodities boom was putting pressure on landholders as resource companies seek access to their land for exploration and development.

 “Negotiating legal agreements with resource companies for conduct and compensation can be a complex and costly exercise,” he said.

 “We’ve taken this action to ensure local communities and individuals get the help they need to negotiate land access issues.”

 Mr Hinchliffe said a legal officer would be travelling the region providing advice to those who wanted it.

 “It’s a free, non-means tested service and the lawyer will be able to travel throughout central Queensland.”

 Mr Hinchliffe said Queensland’s laws stipulated that landholders should have a say in how companies access their property.

 “Queensland’s land access laws ensure landholders receive adequate compensation and have a say in how companies access their property.”

 “They also provide for compensation to be recoverable by landholders for legal, accounting and valuation costs incurred in negotiating or preparing a conduct and compensation agreement.”

 The Government said the lawyer could not provide representation in court or carry out conveyance work, so landholders should also engage their own solicitor before signing agreements.

 The move follows the introduction of stronger mining laws earlier this year and the establishment of a 2km buffer around urban and regional centres where no mining exploration will be allowed.

 A spokesperson from AgForce, Queensland’s peak organisation representing rural producers, did not reply to Australian Mining by deadline but said its members had always had access to free legal advice.

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