Mining rights law fight delayed
THE State Government’s controversial mining reforms will again be delayed, with the Bill not listed as a priority for the coming week of Parliament.
Debate was set to continue tomorrow, after four Liberal backbenchers sided with the Opposition to delay it last year
– but it is not among four Bills listed as legislative priorities.
Farmers want the Bill to include a right of refusal to allow them to stop mining companies working on their properties or, at the very least, better protection for prime agricultural land.
The state’s mining industry said it had hoped for a resolution this week, while Opposition mining spokesman Tom Koutsantonis said the delay showed Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan, pictured, had “lost control of his portfolio”.
“There is no greater sign of disunity and internal squabbling in the Liberal Party than the timing of this legislation being taken out of the minister’s hands and put into the hands of others,” Mr Koutsantonis said.
Talks between Mr van Holst Pellekaan, Premier Steven Marshall and the four renegade Liberal MPs who crossed the floor – Fraser Ellis, Nick McBride, Steve Murray and Dan Cregan – are continuing, but it is understood a final deal is yet to be struck.
Mr Murray, the member for Davenport, told The Advertiser that the backbenchers continued to “engage with stakeholders”.
The quartet told Parliament last year that rural communities had not been delivered the consultation promised by the Liberal Party in the lead-up to last year’s election. They protested about a lack of protection for farmers.
Currently land used for cultivation is unable to be accessed by mining companies, unless they apply for an exemption in court.
But farmers say the courts side with mining companies more often than not and want greater protection.
SA Chamber of Mines and Energy chief executive Rebecca Knol said the Bill was “an important issue for our sector”.
“We would like to see an outcome and had hoped for it this week,” she said.
Grain Producers SA chief executive Caroline Rhodes said the Bill “fails to meaningfully address the land access conflicts arising from the current law”.
“I believe we can, and must, do better to strengthen the rights of farmers,” she said.
“That’s why GPSA will continue to seek further amendments to the Bill, while pushing for an independent review into the legal framework governing mining activity on agricultural land.”
Mr van Holst Pellekaan was contacted for comment. Earlier this month, he said consultation was ongoing.
Priority Bills this week include sentencing, labour hire and rail safety issues.