Landholders and resources companies will have an independent umpire to help resolve disputes over their negotiated agreements under legislation introduced into State Parliament yesterday.
Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Dr Anthony Lynham told Parliament that the new Land Access Ombudsman would provide a faster, free alternative to legal action for industry and landholders.
“Agriculture and resources are both critical sectors in the Queensland economy and the two activities must often co-exist,” he said.
“An independent review of the existing arrangements found dispute resolution options were limited when gas companies and landholders couldn’t resolve issues over their conduct and compensation and make good agreements.
“These agreements apply across coal and mineral resources, as well as gas and petroleum, so the new Land Access Ombudsman will be able to assist where a conduct and compensation agreement or a make good agreement has been entered into,”
“It’s in everybody’s best interest that these disputes are resolved and the new ombudsman will meet that need.”
Conduct and compensation agreements outline the activities undertaken by the resource authority holder and any compensation that applies, while make good agreements outline how resource companies will restore any water bores affected by their activity.
The proposed ombudsman will provide a free service to resolve alleged breaches of these agreements.
This service will be available to:
- the owners or occupiers of private land and resource authority holders who have a conduct and compensation agreement
- the owners of an impaired bore and resource tenure holders who have a make good agreement.
The Land Access Ombudsman will be able to:
- facilitate the resolution of referred disputes that are within its jurisdiction
- give advice to the parties and make non-binding recommendations as to how a dispute could be resolved
- recommend the relevant department investigate a possible offence, or a possible breach of a resource authority that is related to land access.
The bill has been referred to the Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources Parliamentary Committee for consideration and report back to Parliament by 7 August.