QUEENSLAND LAWYER ON TWO SIDES OF A DOUBLE EDGED BILL
Written on the 10 August 2015
A NEW Bill currently before the senate may have the power to dramatically alter petroleum sourcing and coal mining practices to both excellent and unfavourable ends, according to one specialist at Creevey Russell Lawyers.
Laura Hogarth (pictured), solicitor and advisor to the firm's clients in Queensland, spoke to the recent Senate Environment and Communications Legislative Committee hearing on the potentially bright or bleak future the Bill could easily bring about if passed.
One positive outcome of The Landholders Right to Refuse (Gas and Coal) Bill would make negotiations between tenement holders voluntary.
"A right to refuse would dramatically alter the balance of power and allow for fairer commercial negotiations," says Hogarth.
"That would be the most positive outcome of the proposed Bill in my mind, not just the ability to lock the gate but the practical ability of landholders with new commercial leverage to make tenement holders properly compensate for the impacts their activities have on other land uses."
However Hogarth is concerned the blanket ban on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) also proposed by the Bill could have disastrous consequences for the right to choice of individual landowners' property use.
"Instead of allowing landholders to decide whether or not they will accept fracking on their land and for what compensation, the Bill simply provides that 'a constitutional corporation must not engage in hydraulic fracturing operations," says Hogarth.
Concerns have also been raised that the Bill may be failing to meet its own primary purpose.
"The stated objective of the Bill is to bring the fossil fuel age to an end in response to the threat of climate change," says Hogarth.
"It is unclear how the Bill proposes to achieve this end as it does not propose any limit on production of consumption of resources and energy, and it does not support alternative fuels or renewable energy sources such as geothermal energy."
Senator Larissa Walters proposed the Bill which was introduced to the senate in March, which has now been referred to a committee for consideration and report due by August 31.