Farmers battle mining law changes
Jenny OLDLAND JOURNALIST
CONCERNED… Farmers and Yorke Peninsula Land Owners’ Group representatives with Minister for Mining and Energy Dan van Holst Pellekaan and Member for Narungga Fraser Ellis, at Maitland on Sunday, standing: Ben Wundersitz, Stephen Lodge, John Kennett, Graham Mattschoss; seated: Joy Wundersitz, Mr van Holst Pellekaan, Mr Ellis.
KADINA farmer John Kennett is of the firm opinion farming and mining won’t work together.
He’s also afraid many landholders are not fully aware of the implications of the Mining Bill presented to state parliament last month. Mr Kennett, a member of Grain Producers SA, joined a small group of farmers who sat down with Minister for Mining and Energy Dan van Holst Pellekaan to air their concerns on Sunday.
The meeting, held at Maitland, was organised by state Member for Narungga Fraser Ellis.
“This is not only going to affect those around the Hillside mine near Ardrossan but all of us in time, as there are a lot of mineral deposits across the peninsula,” Mr Kennett said.
At the heart of the matter is the right of farmers to veto exploration on their land. The current Mining Act states cultivated land is exempt from mining exploration and development, but mining companies can overturn this exemption in court. The issue will not be fixed by the proposed changes to the act which are before parliament.
“Like most other farmers I would like to see agricultural land exempt from mining and exploration as it has been since the 1880s, and I don’t see why that has to change,” Mr Kennett said.
“Instead, both sides of parliament seem to be bend ing over backwards to make mining happen. “I was disappointed by the minister’s response on Sunday, and indeed the Liberal Party on this matter.” Pushing for change At the meeting, other farmers detailed their concerns about the mining bill, and shared personal experiences about dealing with mining exploration companies. “We are in very new territory here on the peninsula, with the possibility of numerous open-cut copper mines in a high value, high rainfall area between two gulfs,” Elden Oster said.
“We are good farmers and I say let us be part of the process and get it right for all our sakes.” Yorke Peninsula Land Owners’ Group chairperson Joy Wundersitz said from a landholders’ perspective the bill was, in many ways, worse than the current Mining Act. “We had hoped the new Liberal government would set up an independent body to reassess all submissions for the bill that were originally put forward to the Labor government,” she said. “That hasn’t happened and I think that’s where the angst has occurred.
“We aren’t asking for the process to go back to the beginning, but for the issues raised in those original submissions to be included in this new bill to address the current imbalance between the rights of landowners and those of miners seeking access to agricultural land.”