Farmer fight on against mining reform

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Country Times 9th July

Angry…. Maitland farmer Ben Wundersitz said the government had done bugger all to help landowners despite a pre-election promise to undertake further consultation on the controversial mining bill while addressing last week’s rally on the foot steps of Parliament House

THE fight is far from over for farmers protesting the state government’s Mining Bill. After a lengthy debate, the legislation passed through the House of Assembly late last Wednesday, July 3. Members for Narungga Fraser Ellis, Davenport Steve Murray, MacKillop Nick McBride and Kavel Dan Cregan all crossed the floor once again to vote against their own party’s Bill. Joining the quartet were independent MPs Troy Bell (Mount Gambier), Geoff Brock (Frome) and Frances Bedford (Florey). “While we are disappointed and angry the Bill was pushed through last week, we were expecting this would happen when Labor announced they would join the Liberals in voting for it,” Yorke Peninsula Land Owners Group chairperson Joy Wundersitz said. “However, we are far from despondent and the fight is just starting to heat up. “The fact more than 100 bannerwaving farmers and supporters from across the state again turned out to rally on the steps of Parliament House in front of a large media contingent shows we are no longer going to be pushed around and taken for granted. “It is sending a very clear message to all politicians, but particularly to the Liberal party, mining at the expense of agriculture will no longer be tolerated.” Mrs Wundersitz said the most promising development from the debate was the announcement of a Private Members’ Bill from Mr Brock on July 31. “This Bill, he said, will look into land access schemes and regulations in other jurisdictions, the operations of the Department of Energy and Mining and options for a best practice model in South Australia,” she said. “This encompasses exactly what the agricultural sector has been calling for.”

Bill passes but the fight is not over

THE Bill passed the House of Assembly 39 votes to seven but is expected to face more resistance when it reaches the Legislative Council. 

“We’re very confident the two Greens, SA-BEST and two independent members will vote against the Bill in the upper house,” Yorke Peninsula Land Owners Group chairperson Joy Wundersitz said. “This means we only need to get the support of four more upper house Liberals to stop this Bill. “While this may be difficult, it is not impossible.” Member for Narungga Fraser Ellis will now watch with interest debate on the Bill in the upper house and amendments offered, if any. 

“As I said to the many landowners from Yorke Peninsula and other areas of the state that rallied and stayed until nearly midnight in the chamber to watch the passage of the Bill, the fight does not end here,” he said. “Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan has pledged phase two of reforms to this Bill which I look forward to being involved with, and I also plan to progress planning law solutions.”