The Queensland government has passed legislation which will return rights to landholders and other objectors to take legal action against resources projects.
The legislation overturns laws brought in by the Newman Government in 2014 which sought to prevent legal objections to mining projects, and follows through on election promises made by the Labor government.
State development and mining minister Anthony Lynham said the legislation would allow landholders affected by coal seam gas tenures to raise objections to resource activity within 200m of homes and 50m near infrastructure.
The move has been met with disappointment from mining lobbyists, with Association of Mining and Exploration Companies CEO Simon Bennison describing it as a “retrograde step”.
“The Association of Mining and Exploration Companies is extremely disappointed the Queensland Labor Government has taken the retrograde step of re-opening mining objections to anyone, regardless of whether or not they are directly affected by a project,” Bennison said.
“While the introduction of the Mineral and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 to Parliament today is being couched as a fulfilled election promise, it will simply further overload the Land Court which is already serving the needs of the anti-development groups.
Bennison said the amendments would delay projects which create jobs and business opportunities for regional Queensland communities, and cause uncertainty which would deter investment in the state.
“It is not just mineral exploration or mining companies that are affected by these amendments. Landholders across Queensland will be thrown into uncertainty as they wait for court processes to slowly grind through more and more claims.
Queensland Resources Council CEO Michael Roche accepted the change as part of the electoral mandate of the Queensland Labor government, but emphasised that they needed to continue the reform process to shorten timeframes for such objections.
“The onus is now on the state government to get on with the business of reforming Land Court processes dealing with objections to mining leases and environmental authorities,” Roche said.
“This is an urgent matter not just for the projects suffering under crippling delay costs but also for the landholders who continue living with uncertainty as weeks turn into years.”
Last year the QRC proposed several reforms to the Queensland government, including a limit of six months to make decisions based on referrals, preliminary screening of disputes, and the striking out of matter previously deemed outside the remit of courts.
“We call on the state government to get on with the job of reforming the process so we don’t have any more examples like the out-of-control lawyers’ picnic over the New Acland stage 3, where the Land Court has allocated 10 weeks for hearing objections,” Roche said.