At its AGM on Saturday 18th August 2019, the Liberal Party State Council voted in favour of the following Motion by 78 votes to 73.
MINING ACT 1971
State Council calls on the Marshall Liberal Government to amend section 9AA of the Mining Act 1971 by removing the option for exploration/mining companies to apply to the court for an order waiving the benefit of exemption for lands specified in section 9 (1) of the Act.
This Motion is based on a resolution endorsed by 300 farmers at a meeting with the Minister for Energy and Mining, Mr. Dan van Holst Pellekaan, held in Maitland in Sept. last year to express concerns about the lack of protection provided to landowners by the Liberal’s Mining Bill. Following that meeting, the resolution was taken by the Narungga State Electoral Commission to the Liberal Party’s Rural and Regional meeting in November last year before being elevated to Saturday’s State Council AGM.
The Motion was moved by Mr Malcolm Eglinton who spoke eloquently in favour of it, and was seconded by Mr. Graham Mattschoss. Mr. Mattschoss stated he did so because he felt it was important the views of farmers expressed at the 2018 Maitland meeting were carried forward. He also stressed that this Motion was designed to provide greater protection not just for YP farmers but for all agricultural land across SA.
Despite the SA Premier, Mr Steven Marshall, speaking and voting against the Motion, and despite the Minister for Energy and Mining previously ruling out any such change to the Mining Act, its endorsement by the Liberal State Council signals an increasing groundswell of support for landowners in their fight to win greater protection for SA’s arable land.
It also coincides with the recent tabling in Parliament by the Hon Geoff Brock of his Commission of Inquiry (Land Access in the Mining Industry ) Bill. The Member for Frome took this action following the failed attempt by himself, two other independent MPs and four Liberal backbenchers (including Mr Fraser Ellis) to block the Mining Bill’s passage through the Lower House. Mr Brock’s proposed independent Commission of Inquiry would, amongst other things, examine ways in which interstate and overseas jurisdictions seek to provide a better balance between the rights of landowners and those of resource companies seeking access to agricultural land.
Both the agricultural and mining sectors have been calling for an independent review of the Mining Act for many months now, but the Liberal Government has refused to act on it.
In light of last Saturday’s State Council vote and the Brock Bill now before Parliament, the Liberals need to rethink their position.