Mining act review: Fighting for the right to farm

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Mining act review: Fighting for the right to farm

Jenny OLDLAND JOURNALIST

CHANGES to the South Australian mining act will be debated in parliament from noon tomorrow (Wednesday, 1 November 2017).

The Department of Premier and Cabinet’s mining review team held drop-in sessions on the peninsula on Friday, and the timing has been questioned by the 47 landowners who attended at Maitland.

Many thought the session could be the last chance to put forward their views about the legislation, which is likely to impact on local agriculture for decades to come. However, they wonder how their views could be considered when the legislation – the 154-page Leading Practice in Mining Bill 2017 – is already headed to parliament.

They are most concerned about the government’s plan to replace the wording “exempt land”, which has afforded protection for cultivated fields in SA for more than 130 years, with “restricted land”. The farmers considered the proposed new term a far weaker concept.

“Farmers need a blanket exemption for prime agricultural land on Yorke Peninsula, and we need politicians to understand the level of anger out in the community,” Pine Point resident Joy Wundersitz said.

Yorke Peninsula Country Times October 31 2017 Page 6   Disgruntled…Farmers attending the drop-in session at Maitland
on Friday, including Paul Correll and Bradley Hicks of Arthurton
and Elden Oster,of Petersville, said the exercise was just about
the government ticking the public consultation box .

Landowners say their rights are being slowly eroded in favour of mining and mineral exploration. “Perhaps DPC could seek a deputation of real farmers this issue affects — ultimately we are the caretakers of agricultural land in this region,” Petersville farmer Elden Oster said. DPC representatives were assured the group there was still the opportunity to make further recommendations and amendments about changes to the act. Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy Tom Koutsantonis will receive a briefing note on issues raised during the state-wide sessions. Mr Koutsantonis said the bill outlines balanced changes which will cut unnecessary red tape, better protect landowners and the environment, and increase transparency. Member for Goyder Steven Griffiths predicts tomorrow’s debate about the bill could go well into the night, but doubts the lower house will change the bill – in favour of farmers or otherwise. “The House of Assembly won’t change this legislation, even it if were debated for 10 weeks,” he said. “The interesting area is the Legislative Council because it isn’t controlled by either (major) party.” There are only eight sitting days left this year for the bill to pass. Otherwise, it will likely not pass before the election in March, and end up being the responsibility of whichever party forms government.

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