Future of mining changes in limbo

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MINING Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan has been deliberately coy about whether he’ll reintroduce the Government’s controversial Mining Bill – after Labor guaranteed its passage through State Parliament.

Mr van Holst Pellekaan said he would consider whether Labor’s support for the Bill “could be trusted”, but did not declare his position on whether it would be reintroduced.

The Bill shot to prominence last year when four Liberal backbenchers crossed the floor to delay it because of concerns it benefited mining companies at the detriment of farmers and landowners, leading to the State Government eventually shelving the legislation.

The sticking point is the fact that the Bill does not include a right of refusal, which would allow farmers to stop mining companies speculating on their properties.

The guarantee by Labor mining spokesman Tom Koutsantonis, revealed by The Advertiser yesterday, guarantees the Bill would pass if the Government decided to again start debate.

“It’s time the Labor Party stopped playing damaging political games with the mining and farming sectors and with people’s lives,” Mr van Holst Pellekaan, pictured, said.

“The State Government will consider whether Labor and its latest position on the mining bill can be trusted.”

Grain Producers SA chair Wade Dabinett said it was not surprising Labor had declared its support for the Bill, which was almost identical to the legislation it introduced while in government in 2017. “It doesn’t surprise us that the Labor Party would support this Bill in its current form,” he said.

“We’ve suggested ways forward, certainly the Bill in its current form we don’t support, and we barely know any farmers that do.

“We want some certainty from the minister about where he’s going to go with this, because that’s what has really been lacking with this.”

Mr Koutsantonis said there was “no question” that Labor was committed to the mining industry, and called on Mr van Holst Pellekaan to clearly outline whether he’d restart debate on the Bill.

Yorke Peninsula Land Owners Group chair Joy Wundersitz said there would be a strong backlash from farmers who want the power to prevent mining companies from accessing their land if Mr van Holst Pellekaan pushed ahead with the legislation.

“If they go ahead with this it will show the Government’s disregard and disrespect to the farming community they claim to support and represent,” Ms Wundersitz said.