Monday, 27 March 2017

Australian Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources seeks to place farm lands and water security in jeopardy

This man is the Deputy Prime Minister, Leader of the National Party of Australia and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources.

Photograph found at The AIM Network

Member for New England Barnaby Joyce is also the same man who is irresponsibly calling for the dismantling of the already inadequate protections afforded rural and regional lands and water resources when coal seam gas miners move into a district.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has started dismantling Australia's sweeping ban on coal seam gas drilling, arguing a new scheme to divert a share of government royalties to farmers will overcome furious opposition in the bush.

Mr Joyce on Friday embraced a South Australian government plan to pay farmers 10 per cent of royalties in exchange for allowing gas wells on their land, saying the scheme should be rolled out nationally, with an exclusion of prime agricultural land.

The Agriculture Minister said lifting moratoriums and giving landholders a fair price in exchange for access would equate to "a substantial turnaround in attitude and that is a very good outcome".

"I can't see people who start making hundreds of thousands or possibly millions of dollars a year having a backlash," Mr Joyce told Fairfax Media.

"I think you'll probably find them onside."

Mr Joyce's comments could cause political problems in regional Australia and will be opposed by some MPs in the Coalition party room, where views about the environmental, social and electoral impacts of CSG remain mixed……

National Farmers Federation president Fiona Simson said moratoriums were "blunt instruments" but still needed "because of the lack of confidence the community, including the farming community, have in the way governments have regulated the gas industry in the past".

"Until we have absolute confidence these concerns have been addressed, then moratoriums will be part of the response," she said.

But Joyce said excluding prime agricultural land and productive aquifers from exploration would address most concerns….

Ms Simson said the National Farmers Federation welcomed the South Australian plan to "adequately compensate" farmers, but said "it's never been just about the money".

"The two things we can't and won't compromise on is the secure access to water and land," she said.

NSW Resources Minister Don Harwin said the state gas plan "makes clear that landholders and communities will share in the benefits of gas development, and the government has already made legislative changes to deliver on this commitment."

Since July 2016 companies have been able to apply to establish a Community Benefits Fund from which individuals and organisations can apply for grants for community initiatives.

NSW landowners are also entitled to compensation under a land access agreement struck with a company wishing to drill on their land.

"Further compensation may be payable to landowners if there is any loss or damage resulting from exploration or production," Mr Harwin said.

But opponents say this is insufficient as landowners still have no right to refuse access.

NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham said of Mr Joyce's statement: "Barnaby hasn't got the message that farmers won't be bribed. Rural community know coal seam gas destroys land values".

This is what typical coal seam gas production wells, supporting infrastructure and access roads looks like on rural land.

ABC Four Corners, 3 April 2013

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