Image: Courtesy, Queensland Country Life.
Over thirty years in the drilling and mining industry has taught me the need to have good relations with landholders on whose properties you are working. As a rule, it takes little more than a bit of courtesy, common sense, and cooperation to achieve this. While on most occasions a mining company has the law on its side, it is best to avoid the necessity to resort to force of law.
A few smarts can make the difference between drawing water from the property or having to send the tanker to the next available source, which could be 50 km away. Unfortunately, some of the companies in the modern era seem to feel able to ride roughshod over the landholder. In this case, the landholder fought back and won, which may change the whole relationship:
A SUPREME Court decision has reversed the trend of courts ruling against farmers as conflicts between landholders and the resource sector intensified in recent years.
But in an announcement strongly welcomed in the bush, the Supreme Court in Brisbane ruled late last week that Eidsvold grazier Michael Baker was given insufficient mapping information by coal seam gas (CSG) company QGC about the location of a pipeline to be constructed on his property and the activities planned for his land.
The decision will force QGC to restart its application for a State government compulsory access order, known as a Part 5 Permission. The decision also struck out Land Court proceedings QGC initiated just days before last Friday's Supreme Court decision was handed down.
In her ruling on Friday, Supreme Court Justice Jean Dalton found the application for the Part 5 permission lodged by QGC was invalid and Mr Baker had not been provided "procedural fairness" because QGC had provided insufficient mapping details about the exact location of the planned natural gas pipeline - and, when details were finally provided, less than 48 hours to respond before the statutory 20-business day consultation period expired and the material was passed on to then-State mining minister Sterling Hinchliffe to make a final decision on QGC's application.‘Public interest’ is a filthy concept in that it seems to accept the erroneous idea that if one party can claim that a larger number of people will be benefitted than will suffer, the minority should have their rights stripped away. Rights are rights regardless of majority or minority status, and deserve to be respected.
QGC said its pipeline was in the "public interest" and argued in court that it did not have to provide the disputed information to the landholder.
It is great to see property owners get a win over modern day carpetbaggers, who are ready to use the power of the state in the interests of the government in order to get what they want without the need to avoid being a mob of pricks.
In court, ‘public interest’ tends to be the last refuge of the economic scoundrel.