News & Current Affairs
10 September 2014
Queensland passes laws to stop ‘vexatious’ green groups
Laws that limit the capacity of most Queenslanders to object to new mines have been savaged as an attack on democracy
New state laws will prevent most Queenslanders going to the land court to object to proposed mining projects.
The government says the Mineral and Resources (Common Provisions) bill will stop green groups and others launching “vexatious” objections just to delay projects.
Green groups, the Labor opposition and minor parties have savaged the government’s bill, which passed parliament on Tuesday.
They say the new law is an attack on democracy because it limits the capacity of most Queenslanders to object to mining proposals.
The laws mean only directly affected landholders, their neighbours and local councils can now go to the court.
But mines minister Andrew Cripps says the wider community will still be able to object to mining lease applications via associated environmental approval processes.
Cripps has told parliament the laws will restore balance in favour of landowners, and stop green groups from launching “vexatious and frivolous” objections in the land court simply to delay projects.
“The balance the bill seeks to achieve does not extend to enabling green and anti-economic development groups based interstate or overseas ... to stop resource projects and the thousands of jobs the sector supports or cause significant delays to the progress of mining projects by lodging ideologically based objections,” Cripps told parliament on Tuesday night.
“These amendments will ensure only affected persons such as landholders and members of the community who have genuine concerns with the proposed mining project will have the opportunity to object to the land court during the [lease] application process.”
The laws also remove the rights of anyone to object to environmental approval applications for small-scale mining lease applications.
Cripps said those leases must cover less than 10 hectares of land and have fewer than 20 employees, which includes things like clay pits, alluvial gold mines and opal mines.
The Lock the Gate Alliance’s Drew Hutton said Queenslanders had been stripped of a fundamental democratic right.
“The majority of people will have no right to object [to leases],” he said.
“We’ve got mining going on in the Darling Downs, the Brisbane Valley, in the Scenic Rim, in highly residential areas in some cases, on very good agricultural land, areas where underground water is extremely important and extremely exposed to these activities.
“So it’s even more important that the community has a right to be involved in the approval process.”