Mining Bill Debate

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Hansard transcript of entire debate.

Statutes Amendment (Mineral Resources) Bill
Second Reading
Adjourned debate on second reading.
(Continued from 2 August 2018.)

Parliment House
The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN (Bragg—Deputy Premier, Attorney-General) (11:49): I rise to speak to the Statutes
Amendment (Mineral Resources) Bill 2018. This is a bill to amend the Mining Act 1971, the Mines and Works
Inspection Act 1920 and the Opal Mining Act 1995.
It is fair to say that the bill has had a very long gestation period. Indeed, it was the subject of an extensive review by
the former government, and a bill introduced by them in similar terms to this lapsed at the end of the former
government’s parliament before the last election. That may have come as a surprise to many. Indeed, I attended the
University of Adelaide for a special meeting, which had been arranged to consider the new provisions that were
going to apply if the bill had passed the previous parliament, only to find that a number of them thought that it had
and were progressing with the education session and instructions as though it had.
I was able to point out to them that it had not passed the parliament, that therefore it was an important exercise to
still discuss aspects of it, because there had clearly been a large amount of work done, and that, if we were
successful at the next election, in forming government it would obviously be a matter we would give attention to
and need to look at it with fresh eyes to review aspects of it that we considered inadequate or unsatisfactory. I
would like to place on the record the work of the Minister for Energy and Resources in making sure that, in retabling
the bill in the new parliament with some amendments to the previous bill, it was then allowed to sit for some
months, from its introduction in August, to enable people to still make a further contribution if they saw fit.
I think it is fair to say, without going through a number of the submissions that were made, that perhaps the most
significant area of request for reform was for those who were the owners of rural property that had a higher growth
capacity and were usually in the business of cultivating a valuable crop for South Australia, and they were active in
ensuring that they had their say on what further reform should occur in relation to this legislation. I thank the
minister for taking the time to consider that. I think other members in the parliament, of course, were approached,
as I was, about their plight and their claimed resolution as to how they should be protected in those circumstances.
I also want to place on the record the commitment of the minister to a second tranche of review in relation to the
operational aspects of how this broad legislation would work in the amended form for our new mining laws that are
to apply. That is important because there are some practical issues that still need to have some resolution to the
extent of how they are actually going to work. If there is a capacity given for access to land, wherever it is in South
Australia, to have the opportunity to explore the identification of a reserve in this regard—whether or not it is worth
digging up is another matter—we need to know operationally how these things are going to work, especially with
the new definitions and modifications proposed in the bill.
I would like to declare, before I say anything further, that, yes, I am the owner of residential, commercial and rural
property in South Australia. I am pretty confident that it is unlikely that BHP is going to knock on my residence in the
seat of Bragg and say, ‘We want to dig up your plot to find some mystery gold underneath it.’ If they do, I will talk to
them about reasonable compensation, no doubt. In any event, commercial development of property, operations of
existing businesses and so on, are actually all covered in the current law but are being protected in this further
regime of amendments.
The rural land I own, luckily for me, is on Kangaroo Island and, as most people know, Kangaroo Island is a rock with a
bit of dirt on top. I have to say that over the years plenty of people have tried to dig and find silver, gold and all sorts
of things; alas, there appears to be nothing there, so I do not expect that I will have some company followed up by
BHP come and establish an exploration or seek the right to explore and ultimately dig in relation to that property. I
do accept that there are a number, perhaps in a fairly limited space geographically in South Australia; nevertheless,
that is very important to them, and I would like to be clear that our expectation as a government, and I know it is the
minister’s personal commitment, is to ensure that that continues.
I would like to flag a couple of matters that have been raised; one is the question of whether the owner of a
property should have the right to access mineral rights, whether under a house, under a building, under a shed,
under a sheep yard or anywhere. This is a matter that is very clear in our law in South Australia and has been for
almost 50 years—that is, an owner does not own what is under the ground and does not have the opportunity, if
there is something valuable there, to dig it up and keep the proceeds.
We can go into the reasons for whether or not it was a good idea by former premier Dunstan to change the law. The
fact is that it happened and that those opportunities were removed. The gate is open, the sheep are out and I do not
see them being rounded up or it being changed. Because some states in the United States of America have the right
to own everything under the ground, sometimes people have the impression that that should be restored here in
South Australia. I do not see that happening in Australia. Governments all around the country have taken over the
right to have that.
The reason it is important to remember that it is here, and I do not see that changing anytime soon, is that the public
now owns this resource. It is then a question of in what circumstances should they have the opportunity to exploit it
and for governments to operate the licensing and process that are going to apply for that to happen fairly and for
the protection of other people’s existing interests, including farming and cultivation interests. I do not think that
there is any easy answer to those who would like to have complete control of that.
The next phase is a veto scenario so that the owner of the property can say, ‘I don’t get any access to this money, the
proceeds from a resource, and I don’t want to be in a situation where anyone else gets access to it.’ The ultimate
denial of access to a public asset is something that I think the rest of the people of South Australia, quite reasonably,
have a right to have explored. The act, with some new initiatives under this government, will provide some
protections around that and forums where, hopefully, those matters can be justly and equitably decided. The
opportunity to say, ‘I don’t have any access to this public asset and I’m not going to let anybody else have access to
it,’ is not something that we can justifiably accept.
In the course of reviewing this matter, I have looked at other jurisdictions, including the Western Australian model.
By way of a tiny bit of history, my mother’s side of the family was involved in the establishment of the Geraldton
mines in Western Australia. From time to time, I have had some interest in mining in Western Australia, not because
I have any interest in the mine, I might add—unless my superannuation fund manager has some mining shares in my
superannuation portfolio, I do not have any direct interest in mining companies or as a shareholder—but because I
have had a personal interest in the history.
They have done it slightly differently in Western Australia, but they do not, in my view, under their model, address
the fundamental question: should the landowner have access to the proceeds of the resource or, more importantly
for this debate, to allow the exclusive right to veto the opportunity for anyone else to have access to it? It is not
going to remedy the complaint and that is the reality of what we are faced with.
The detail of the bill has been traversed by our minister and I will not go through it, but I may have some comment
to make in relation to any committee process. What I would like to say is in relation to two other matters. Firstly, I
place on the record the importance to me of representing the people of Bragg. The electorate houses the first mine
in South Australia—at Glen Osmond. I will just find the history of that—
The Hon. L.W.K. Bignell: We can google it.
The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: —which is the silver and lead mines. Some might know this. Perhaps the noisy member
from Mawson might know this. In early days, it was mistaken as having a copper resource, but he might not have
known that. I presume he knows most things, but in any event—
The Hon. L.W.K. Bignell: I did. I have been through it.
The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Duluk): Order! I was unaware. Thank you for that information, Deputy Premier.
The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: Thank you, sir. Nevertheless, it was and remains, of course, of national historical
significance. The Glen Osmond mines comprise Wheal Gawler, Wheal Watkins and the Glen Osmond mine itself. In
refreshing my memory about these mines, I only just noticed that one of them was actually located on Chapman
Crescent. How about that? Obviously, it was the wrong Chapman because I did not get any interest in that one
either.
I make the point that it is of national significance. It was the first metalliferous mine in Australia and, very
importantly for the colony back in the 1830s and 1840s, it was the first producer of mining product for export. It was
the first metalliferous export from Australia, so it was a very important mine in the history of South Australia. When
one looks at the history, relative to the act we are opening up and amending, I notice that the land at Glen Osmond
was first surveyed in 80-acre sections and sold in the late 1830s. According to the laws at the time, the mineral rights
belonged to the purchasers and the boundaries of the properties would become the boundaries of the separate
mines, so you could dig up to the boundary line.
We have since learned a lot about the coexistence of enterprises and their need to prevail and be protected. There
has been an area of mining law developed in South Australia to ensure that, where possible, the interruption to
other enterprises or neighbouring pursuits, for example, are protected from pollution and the like.
The other matter I want to mention because it is very contemporary at the moment is Mintabie opal mining. The
Minister for Energy is also the local member and is very—
The Hon. D.C. van Holst Pellekaan: No, it’s Giles.
The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: You are not the local member anymore? What a shame!
The Hon. L.W.K. Bignell: It’s Giles. It’s probably a good one not to have.
The ACTING SPEAKER (Mr Duluk): Order!
The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: The member for Giles is the current member under the boundaries. Nevertheless, I am
aware that the minister has a very good working knowledge of and understands what happened with the Mintabie
township. Some would know that it was granted an opportunity to continue to operate as a town and a mine under
our APY legislation back in the early 1980s because all the surrounding land was identified, for the purposes of the
APY Act, to be handed back to the management of the local Indigenous Anangu families, etc. It was given a
significant lease of 40 years or so to operate under the management of the government of the day, not the local
governance of the lands. That lease expired, and sometime in 2017, I think, the then government indicated that they
were not going to—
The Hon. D.C. van Holst Pellekaan: February 2018.
The Hon. V.A. CHAPMAN: February 2018, so just before the election. After some inquiry, the then government
indicated they would not be extending the lease and it would therefore transfer to—not be restored to, because
they never had it—the general management of local governance.
I mention this because there have been around 40 years of mining at Mintabie. I think there are still 30 or so
permanent residents in the town. I know of Mintabie because it used to be where people would sometimes hide out
if they did not want to be served with a subpoena—usually mine—for a witness to attend. Nevertheless, I also
recognise it for its very important role in opal mining in South Australia. According to the investigations by the
Department for Energy and Mining, in a report they published in August this year, Mintabie has:
…an area totalling less than two square kilometres and has [of course] been intensively mined. A conservative
estimate of the area of greatest prospectivity within the Mintabie Precious Stones Field is 20 square kilometres.
Within the 20 km² region of high prospectivity, the Mintabie opal field will support Mining for 400 years…
That is not insignificant. The report further identifies:
The total value of the opal mined at Mintabie to 2016 has been estimated by the South Australian Government to be
$421M. An area-based analysis concludes that this is less than 10% of the total contained opal at Mintabie. The opal
resource in Mintabie, including the opal already found is therefore estimated to have a raw opal value of over $4B.
The reason I mention this is that, as some will know, there have been some calls for assistance. In fact, the Hon.
Graham Gunn, a former member of our parliament, has been on the phone—you do not usually need a phone
because you can hear him from the West Coast. He was very concerned about the future of the town and its people.
Having represented a lot of the area, he of course understands the significance of the opportunities in Mintabie for
South Australia and, in this case, opal mining.
If you pick up the paper today, you will see that concerns have been raised by at least one resident—I think they are
the principal or deputy principal at the local school—about acts of vandalism. Concerns have been raised by the local
community that there may be some attempts to almost run these people out of town. I do not know whether that is
the case; the media report seems to indicate that attempts are being made to ensure that the people who may be
responsible are being investigated, and I think some arrests have been made.
The fact is that, whatever the governance arrangements in respect of this area, people need to be able to live in their
homes free of threats, property damage, assault or harm—and in regard to that we rely heavily on members of the
South Australian police force who are on the APY lands. It is of absolute importance to the government that the
Mintabie area and township continue to be protected, and we will make sure they are.
Mr TRELOAR (Flinders) (12:09): I rise to make a contribution to this debate on the Statutes Amendment (Mineral
Resources) Bill 2018, and I recognise, as others have and will in this debate, the importance of this particular bill. I
recall debating amendments to the Mining Act way back in 2011, when the minister and I were both relatively new
members of parliament. We were very pleased with the work we did, even from opposition at that time, particularly
in relation to the environmental benefits that we brought to the act and to the mining industry itself.
As the member for Bragg pointed out, this particular amendment bill has had quite a long gestation period. It was
brought to the parliament by the previous government in 2017. In fact, it was debated in this house and progressed
through, but it lapsed in the upper house when parliament went into recess before the election in March 2018. Our
commitment as Liberals in opposition was that, should we gain government, we would review all the consultation
that had occurred under the previous government, reintroduce the bill in a new format or with some changes and,
hopefully, address some of the concerns brought up in that time.
I am going to declare an interest, as did the member for Bragg. For many years, I was an active grain grower and
farmer on Eyre Peninsula. I still own farming property on Eyre Peninsula. I add that there is a tenement sitting over a
couple of the sections that I own, section 20 and part of section 45, Hundred of Mortlock, which are situated about
half an hour’s drive north of Port Lincoln.
This bill is a mining bill to enable mining; that is its intention. However, as many of us on this side of the house have
discovered, it is about much more than that. It is also about agriculture because the number of tenements sitting
over agricultural land in South Australia is now significant, and it is possible that some exploration and even mine
development will occur within the agricultural areas of the state. If that were to occur, it would not be the first time
in our state’s history that that has happened.
It is well known that a discovery of copper, initially at Kapunda and then at Burra, saved this state from bankruptcy in
the early days and, in fact, built half of this fine building we are now sitting in. This chamber was built in the 1880s
very much on the back of the wealth that copper brought to this state from Kapunda, Burra and Upper Yorke
Peninsula, around the Moonta area in particular. I do not mean to be facetious, but a lot of the names that we see in
South Australia and in this place are of Welsh and Cornish derivation.
Mr Ellis interjecting:
Mr TRELOAR: The member for Narungga has just commented on my tie. Given that he has, I indicate that this is the
Cornish national tartan.
The Hon. D.J. Speirs: Hear, hear!
Mr TRELOAR: ‘Hear, hear!’ says my Scottish colleague. Quite by accident, I happen to be wearing this today. I digress,
but that was well picked up. My great-great-grandfather came here in the 1840s. He worked as a teamster, and he
hauled copper ore from Burra to Port Wakefield. The place abounded with mines and miners, but eventually the
resource ran out. Obviously, for South Australia, the money ran out because we were not able to finish this
parliamentary building. It was not until the 1930s that we were able to finish it.
All the time I have been a member of parliament, this has been bubbling away as an issue, particularly in relation to
Eyre Peninsula. As people know, the electorate of Flinders extends from Port Lincoln all the way to the Western
Australia border. It does not include the Middleback Ranges—that sits in the member for Giles’ electorate—but
historically that has been the foundation of the heavy industry in South Australia. The iron ore mined there really
brought about the foundation of the City of Whyalla and generated the steelmaking works, the shipbuilding and all
the rest at Whyalla. It is still being mined for both haematite and magnetite, and it looks like going on for quite some
time.
Graphite was mined in the early days on Lower Eyre Peninsula, and the Uley graphite mine had several incarnations
over the ensuing 100 years, none of which was particularly long lasting or successful. Nevertheless, the resource
remains, and I am sure people will come back to have another look at it. There are graphite deposits across other
parts of Eyre Peninsula as well, particularly in the east, and gold was also mined in the early days.
Iluka has a mineral sands deposit north-west of Ceduna, and that is particularly lucrative for them; the world market,
particularly China, is demanding the mineral sands, the zircon, etc., they are able to dig up out there and exported
from Thevenard. We also have the usual rubble pits from which councils source their road metal, and the gypsum
and lime go into the agricultural area, so mining has occurred on Eyre Peninsula.
One of the very first public meetings I went to—in fact, I was in campaign mode when I was attempting to win the
seat of Flinders for the first time—was a public meeting at the Port Lincoln Town Hall. A company by the name of
Centrex had discovered a haematite deposit, I think it was, at Murdinga near Lock and had actually purchased the
property from the farmer who owned it.
The family had owned that property since settlement and it was a particularly difficult negotiation. They eventually
achieved a price that was reasonable, although I have to say that the landowner was not at all happy about that
outcome because, ultimately, he wanted to stay. The interesting thing is that Centrex really disappeared altogether.
The property was leased back to a neighbouring farmer to farm, and I understand that it was eventually sold. No
mine was developed; despite the proposal and all the angst created around that, nothing developed.
Of particular interest to the people of Port Lincoln was that the Centrex plan was to rail the haematite down the
existing rail corridor and put it out over a belt on the wharf at Port Lincoln. Understandably, people were not too
happy about their pristine seaside town being filled with red dust. Of course, historically that was the case in
Whyalla, but I understand that conditions have changed and that they are now better able to manage that situation.
That brings me to the next big proposal for Eyre Peninsula: the Iron Road magnetite mine at Warramboo. I became
familiar with this very soon after being elected. Interestingly, it has been known that there is an iron ore deposit at
Warramboo for at least 50 years, maybe longer. Everyone was aware of it and various interested parties came and
went over the ensuing decades, but nothing progressed very far until a company by the name of Iron Road obtained
the tenement, did some significant core samples and determined a really significant magnetite deposit.
That said, negotiations with the landowners—I believe there are six farmers involved in that area—were difficult and
they remain difficult. The farmers were receptive or not to varying degrees, and my understanding is that Iron Road
have not purchased any of the properties. They have a proposal for a $5 billion project that includes a mine site, a
processing plant (because it is magnetite), and a freight corridor, which will include a train, power and water to a
new port facility at Cape Hardy. None of that is in place at this point in time.
I know that the company is still seeking investors, but at this stage they have not been able to source the required
capital. Once again, the proposal has left the landowners who sit over the magnetite deposit, as well as those
landowners who are within the proposed rail corridor, in a situation of uncertainty, and that is the real issue—the
uncertainty that pervades the issue. Iron Road, for the best part, have negotiated and committed as much as they
can in the rail corridor. Landowners have been, to varying degrees, receptive or not, so who knows whether or not
this proposal will get up. I do not know. I cannot necessarily say that it will get up next year, the year after, in 10
years or in 50 years. Who knows? It may never. It is a big deposit, though.
That brings me to the next point, that is, the development of a port facility. Cape Hardy has been identified as the
priority site for Iron Road. Deep water is positioned just south of Port Neill and would be quite capable of loading
Cape class vessels relatively close to shore. Within 600 metres, I think, there is 16 metres of water. Farmers have
been watching this with interest and looking for the opportunity to piggyback on that development in relation to
possible grain exports as well.
I am familiar with the difficulties and angst caused through exploration companies—let’s call them that—
approaching landowners and farmers for access. Really, that is the crux of it as far as landowners are concerned—
the access. I acknowledge the work done by the previous minister, the current minister and the department in
developing this bill and the benefits it will bring to landowners. I will spend a couple of minutes running through
those quickly because it is worth people understanding them.
‘Exempt land’ is a term that, for a time, looked like disappearing. It still exists. I will come to this again a little bit
later, but for me one of the real bugbears in this bill is that term itself, the definition of ‘exempt land’ and what that
might mean. The courts have decided that it means something different from what a landowner might think it would
or could mean.
The exempt land legal advice has been increased from $500 to $2,500 per landowner. The exempt land radius for
high impact mineral operations has been increased by 50 per cent, from 400 metres to 600 metres, and I think the
member for Kavel will have some things to say about that. There is improved access to justice by expanding the
courts that hear exempt land matters to include the Warden’s Court and the Supreme Court, as well as the ERD, and
there are new rights for landowners to apply for an exempt land determination.
There is increased transparency and access to information. There will be free access to information of what is
approved over land through an expanded mining register. In other words, there will be more information and it will
be much more available. There will be improved industry and government transparency and accountability through
modernised powers for compiling, keeping, providing and releasing materials publicly; updating an expanded public
consultation on tenement applications and change of operations; and clearly documented reasons for ministers’
decisions through preparation of assessment reports. There will be publication of directions or orders for
noncompliance and annual compliance reports.
A couple of the residents of Eyre Peninsula who have really been at the coalface of this issue over the last half a
dozen years or so have commented to me that, in essence, the act itself—and we are talking about the previous act
or the existing act—is not that bad but that it is the application of the act that really has become an issue. I think
there is a message in that for our government, the minister and probably the department as well, in that the act, for
the most part, is quite definitive, and it is beholden on the department itself to ensure that the application of the act
is as it should be.
Regarding notice of entry, there will be clear and understandable definitions of operations so that notices to
landowners are clear about what activities are proposed and approved. There will be improved notices to reflect the
impact and proposed exploration activity. There will be a new notice of intention to apply for a production
tenement, with rights to object or progress negotiations, and there will be increased time to enter to commence
activities. Minister, that has now stretched out to 42 days, the extension of the time?
The Hon. D.C. van Holst Pellekaan: Yes, six weeks.
Mr TRELOAR: Yes, six weeks or 42 days, that’s right—thank you for that; I knew you were listening—that’s great.
There will be increased compliance and enforcement tools, including guaranteed payments to landowners, with new
powers to allow government to recover unpaid rent; increased penalties for breaching exempt land and notice of
entry obligations, a right to use more extractive minerals through clarification and a right to compensation
protected. Also, native title is dealt with. There will be red-tape reduction, commercial flexibility and all those things.
But the crux of the matter for me, and the crux of this bill, is in relation to section 9 and section 9AA. I think
landowners right across the state will be familiar with this, and it relates to exempt land. We are proposing
amendments to that. In fact, clause 8 amends section 9 to declare land of the following kinds to be exempt land:
land that is lawfully and genuinely used as a yard or garden, as in the electorate of Bragg, which the member so ably
described;
land that is lawfully and genuinely used as a cultivated field, plantation, orchard or vineyard for commercial
purposes;
land situated within the prescribed distance (as now defined in the section, which varies in relation to whether the
operations are low impact or advanced exploration operations or any other authorised operations) of a building or
structure used in a place of residence; and
land within 150 metres of a building or structure with a value equal to or exceeding the prescribed amount, as
defined in the section, used for an industrial or commercial purpose.
The clause also makes a number of consequential amendments to section 9. As I said, I am personally having some
difficulty with this in relation to exempt land and the fact that cultivated land, as indicated in section 9, should and
would be exempt. If you were a farmer on Eyre Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula or anywhere else in the state, you would
expect that the arable—
Mr Ellis interjecting:
Mr TRELOAR: If you were, and I am; I have already said that, member for Narungga—then that paddock, that field
that you would cultivate and crop on an annual basis, would be exempt. It seems that that is not so, that the option
is for an exploration company to go to court and have that exempt land waived. It seems to be a no-win situation for
farmers, which makes it really difficult and just adds to this uncertainty that we have been talking about.
Section 9AA provides a formal process for a tenement holder to invite an owner of land to enter into an agreement
with the tenement holder to waive the benefit of an exemption. If the tenement holder is unable to reach an
agreement with the owner of land, they can apply to the ERD Court for an order waiving the benefit of the
exemption. As I said, this is the crux of the bill for me. I have had much correspondence from constituents relating to
this. It is a vexed issue. It is not entirely solved with the new bill. Most of the bill is the result of a lot of good work
over a long period of time, but I do not believe in my own mind that we have addressed properly the quite rightful
concerns that landowners have around exempt land and what that might mean for their farming business.
I know there are various hotspots of unrest around the state, let’s call it that. I take the view that each and every
farming business in South Australia is of equal value. They are all making a contribution, whether they are at
Sandilands or Edillilie or Orroroo or Poochera. They are all making an equal contribution to the state, they are all
viable businesses and they all need to be treated with the respect they deserve. With that, I conclude my remarks
and look forward to the progression of this bill and the subsequent impact that it might have.
Mr McBRIDE (MacKillop) (12:29): I rise today to raise my concerns and voice my support for the concerns raised by
my colleagues, the members for Narungga, Kavel and Davenport, in relation to the Statutes Amendment (Mineral
Resources) Bill 2018. I have stated in this house that I am proud to be member of the Marshall Liberal government, a
government that has a great many runs on the board in demonstrating that our regions matter. Our government has
listened to the people of my electorate of MacKillop in enshrining a ban on fracking in the South-East. The
government has cut payroll taxes and reduced emergency services bills. These changes have been needed and are
taking great steps to restore the confidence of business across the state and, importantly, in regional South
Australia.
It is with regional South Australia in mind that I oppose the bill in its current format. It is my view that, on this
occasion, we are moving forward with a bill that mirrors the one that was composed under the previous Labor
government—a government that clearly did not have the interests of the farming community or regional
communities on their radar. The Liberal Party has picked up the Labor Party mining bill changes and has kept 95 per
cent of its intention. It is a bill that would have benefited from a more substantial review and community
engagement undertaken under the new Marshall Liberal government. What I really like about our new Liberal
government and what we promised prior to the election is our promise to underpromise and overdeliver—and the
bill here today just does not cut it.
Landowners are small family business owners and have always seen the Liberal Party as their ally. Prior to the
election, the Liberal Party promised consultation on a Labor government problem. I would like to see us as a
government ensure that a consultation process is undertaken that welcomes the perspectives of mining businesses
and the farming sector. Through the correspondence that comes through my electoral office, I am acutely aware
that people are now raising matters with the Marshall Liberal government on which they could not previously get
any traction under the former Labor government.
In considering the earlier draft of this bill, I am aware that regional constituents raised a great many points during
consultation, seeking to improve the Mining Act to bring balance between farmers and mining companies. I suspect
there could have been a great many more issues raised, had it not been that our regional constituents were so
disillusioned with legislative amendment processes and government decision-making that were a product of not
being listened to during the entire period that the other side was in government. Had our government initiated
additional consultation, evaluation and meaningful consideration outcomes, I am confident that we would have
found ourselves with a bill that provided a more balanced approach to access to land on which mining is proposed to
occur.
As I have previously stated in this house, I am very supportive of the mining sector and recognise its importance to
the state. Mining should not be thought of as the enemy of regional South Australia. We simply need to ensure that
the rights of both parties are fairly treated and managed in an even-handed way. I would like to support the
constituents of Narungga in relation to the status of freehold property. Like many other members of this house, I
have received many emails raising concerns about the need to delay the consideration of this bill and further
engagement.
I am aware that the appeals process under the Mining Act appears to be stacked against the farmer-landowners:
mining companies have a very successful track record in court in the appeals process against the designation of
exempt land. A fair process is required to enable landowners to operate on a more level playing field. We as a new
government need to take ownership and bring new ideas and opportunities for the next generation of legislation. A
more extensive consultation process would have facilitated this. We have missed an opportunity to reduce the red
tape involved in the Mining Act, missed an opportunity to bring greater transparency and balance to the rights of
landowners under the act and missed the opportunity to include fit-for-purpose conditions for mining development
that make it more straightforward to proceed, particularly for small-scale mining activities.
My opposition to the bill as currently drafted is associated with a lack of consultation and missed opportunities. The
Mining Act in its current form does not well differentiate between different scales of mining, and small-scale
enterprises are a case in point. Very early on in the process, I heard from local constituents and businesses that were
into earthmoving that, when they raised rubble, sand for cement, gypsum, dolomite and those sorts of things that
are extracted in the Limestone Coast area, any sort of mining development was like starting out a whole new Roxby
Downs project.
These are projects that fit under 100,000 cubic metres or 100,000 tonnes. The red tape for these small earthmoving
businesses makes it so difficult that most of them just say it is too hard. In fact, I learned the other day that mines in
the Limestone Coast were closed down for environmental reasons, such as vegetation. In my region, we are now
going into Victoria to seek the same deposits, minerals, gravel and the like, because our state is so hard to deal with
under our current Mining Act.
There is a case to consider for the smaller end mining operations, that is, mining that extracts less than 100,000
tonnes per annum, to be subject to less onerous requirements. Currently, the ministerial determinations are suitable
for large developments but too complex and onerous for smaller enterprises. It is small-scale mining of this type that
operates in a range of rural locations for activities, such as small-scale sand mining or rubble raising. These activities
bring local benefits through the use of local contractors to smaller, regional mining activities.
Smaller activities, such as the preparation of pads for silos and grain bunkers, are getting caught up in the Mining Act
requirements. This lacks common sense. There should be some inclusion of special requirements to enable these
activities to proceed unencumbered by weighty regulatory requirements. Revision of the mining act could have
created a pathway for assessment and compliance that is simple and commensurate with the scale and risks
associated with the mining activities.
Consideration of existing land uses is an area that could be considered. Currently, land cover, such as bracken fern,
being picked up is a requirement for the special environmental benefit payments for small mining enterprises.
Current practices, such as grazing of the land, are not considered. Any new application for mines brings a more
onerous requirement for the landowner and proponent.
A small earthmoving business in my region told me that they have to deal with two levels of environmental
bureaucracy. They work through the Department for Environment and Water and get permission in that format, but
they have another environmental aspect in the Mining Act they have to work through as well. It is a double layer.
These are but a few of the types of issues and improvements that could be made to the mining sector that would
support the reduction of red tape.
Our regions are our state’s food bowl. We need to ensure that the provisions of the Mining Act look out for key
regions that are important to the state’s clean, green food image. The state’s tourist wine and food regions need to
be recognised as important and appropriate provisions and safeguards put in place to ensure mining activity does
not detract from the very values upon which this tourism is based. There will be places where agriculture can coexist
with intensive agriculture, but safeguards need to be in place so this can happen.
We need to look at the bigger picture, at the longer term sustainability of farming across the state. We cannot afford
to lose any more of our prime agricultural land. The expansion of urban sprawl encroaching on agricultural
operations and the growth of lifestyle farming, also encroaching on good quality agricultural land, are already
pressures facing our agricultural sector. Granted, these are market-based drivers that provide some choice for
landowners; however, continuing to operate with inequitable provisions that enable mining companies to continue
to successfully appeal exemptions under the Mining Act simply adds pressure and stress to farming families and
businesses.
Protecting arable land, changing land use and the intensification of agriculture are key issues for farming business in
light of the potential loss of their land to mining. We have seen good evidence of fast-paced changes in land prices
and technology. Land values double every 10 years and more quickly in recent times. If you sell out to a mining
company and wish to reinvest, you have to act quickly before land prices leave you behind after recent price surges.
The continuation of successful appeals to exempt land under the Mining Act also leaves farms vulnerable. There is
often limited ability for farms to reinvest in the acquisition of land close to their farm in an effort to replace like for
like. Good quality land is tightly held, making it harder to trade out and in. The more successful the region, the
harder it is for businesses to relocate or find like for like. Mining opened up Australia to agriculture and still has a
role to play. The pastoral regions are trying to attract mining as it builds infrastructure and brings people to remote
areas with water, roads and communications. The Mining Act includes provisions that still enable this exploration
and mining activity to occur.
With the difficulty that we as a government face with this bill, I would like to explain the land use issues and how
they reach from one pole to another. If a resource were found in the North Adelaide Parklands of Adelaide and it
were deemed feasible to mine, would it be acceptable to dig up those Parklands to mine that resource and do
everything it would do to the city—dwellers, residents, transport and so forth—because it was a rich resource?
I know that is on the far end of the spectrum and will probably never play out but, on the other end of the spectrum,
I can take you 300 or 400 kilometres beyond Port Augusta and you will be welcomed with open arms regarding any
sort of mining activity in these regions. In between those two ends of the spectrum, this government has to find its
way to where it is going to protect and look after the community and what it values and then open up the
opportunities that mining brings.
When you go beyond the suburban fringe—which is the easy thing to do because there are a lot of votes involved in
the urban fringe—you start getting into hobby farms, lifestyle farms and then intensive agriculture like vineyards and
land with tourism appeal, be it vineyards/winery/lunch and restaurants and perhaps even motels. Then you go
beyond that into more agricultural operations, be they farming, crops and so forth, and livestock, and it all becomes
easier and easier to go mining the further we get away from our city centres. This is where the important part of the
balance comes into play.
Where is it acceptable to put a mine right alongside a vineyard that tries to encompass everything a vineyard is
about—clean, world-quality wine, food, a tourist attraction—and then, for example, on the flipside, only metres
away they say, we can open up an old mine? This is the dilemma that government, any government, will have to
work through and find the balance, and this is what I am talking about today: I do not think this mining bill has
encompassed this balance. It has not gone out seeking consultation on this issue and it needs to hear from the
community as to where the answers lie.
Coming back to our food production in this state and meeting the world’s need for food, we know that we are no
longer just a product: we are a niche market. Niche markets are about providing food of the highest quality in the
world so that we can return or receive the highest premiums for our food. One of the growers and landowners on
Yorke Peninsula said, ‘We are trying to grow the world’s best wheat, the world’s best lentils and the world’s best
grains.’ So does it fit—and I only say ‘does it?’ I ask the question: does it fit to have a copper mine right alongside
that scenario? That is the question, and this is why I say that consultation is absolutely key.
I also highlight that I probably would not be here today without a mining industry. My forebear arrived in Australia in
about the 1860s and headed to Burra to go mining. He found himself very bad at it, so he did not stay mining. But we
were there, we actually attempted it and we lived off the miners because we discovered livestock, fencing and
digging for water, and they were the three key elements that gave us the legs into the sheep industry that we
currently run today.
Since then, our pastoral pursuits have benefited immensely from the mining operations of South Australia and what
mining has brought to South Australia in infrastructure, roads, communications and water. We will continue to do
that because there are still minerals out on our pastoral lands waiting to be explored, waiting to be found and
waiting to have that value encompass that resource; some of the resources are not ready for mining yet because it
does not stack up, but they are there.
We need a mining act that reduces red tape. We need a mining act that brings greater transparency and greater
balance to the rights of landowners. We need a mining act that includes fit-for-purpose conditions for mining
development that will make it more straightforward, particularly for small-scale mining activities to proceed. This
will in turn support businesses in our regions to add value to mining operations.
It is my view that we need a process to review the Mining Act that is consultative and engages the people of South
Australia in a discussion that values prime agricultural land. Until we have that engagement and robust discussion
that bring balance and fairness, we will not have a Mining Act that will stand us in good stead for South Australia’s
future.
I congratulate our party and I congratulate our minister on trying to work with this bill. He has not taken the bill
exactly from the old government and thrown it back out for the government to take in its entirety. There are
changes. He has tried to bring some changes of metreage and moneys for the appeals process through the courts.
They are all positive steps and I welcome them. They show intent—and a very good intent—to try to do the right
thing, but they are very, very superficial.
When you talk about going to court and challenging a multinational mining company, $2,000 does not give you even
10 minutes in a court. This is what we are up against as farmers, small businesses and small family businesses.
Although I think our intent is very noble, it does not go very far at all. On that basis, I am unable to support the
Statutes Amendment (Mineral Resources) Bill 2018 in its current form.
Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (12:46): I rise to make comment on the Statutes Amendment (Mineral Resources) Bill
2018 and register my grave concerns with the imbalance of power between mining companies and farmers. In fact,
listening to the member for MacKillop, I wholeheartedly endorse every aspect of his speech. I thought it was very
well done.
One of the biggest threats to farming today is the loss of valuable farming land. This can be attributed to mining but
also to the loss of landowners’ legal rights in relation to this issue. It beggars belief that anyone in this room would
tolerate a company coming onto their property without asking and not having any say in when and how that
company operates or what is taken from their land. For the majority of us, this scenario is inconceivable, yet this is
exactly what is going on in my part of the state, the seat of Mount Gambier.
Last week, the member for Narungga told us of a family farming couple in his electorate who went to court for two
years over access to their farmland. I would like to make mention of a family in my electorate who are in this
situation: Gordon Walsgott and his son Jason. The Walsgotts are fourth-generation farmers who have a long history
in the Limestone Coast. Since 1992, a mineral lease has allowed a company to mine for dolomite on the Walsgotts’
property at Compton. The lease has been renewed three times for different time periods of five and seven years.
The Walsgotts have engaged lawyers to battle the mining company over the lease being renewed again and again,
arguing that multiple breaches of the Mining Act and the lease terms mean that the lease should not be renewed.
They said that the quarry has been mined to five times the depth that was initially agreed upon. Mining has been
carried out just 400 metres from the Walsgotts’ home and just 150 metres from an underground well, which is
supposedly exempt land. Piles of waste lie on their property, which has been taken over by noxious weeds and feral
animals.
Since 2009, the site has lain dormant. The Walsgotts say that the site has not been remediated at all. I can confirm
this because, going through my records, it was in 2014 that I wrote to the then minister for mineral resources and
energy, the Hon. Tom Koutsantonis, highlighting their concerns and on 16 December got a reply.
At the change of party at the last state election, I wrote to the now Minister for Energy and Mining on 16 August
2018 and highlighted these same concerns. I just want to read through what was actually written:
Dear Minister
I am writing to you on behalf of a constituent Mr Gordon Walsgott.
Mr Walsgott has property on the edge of Mount Gambier that he leases out for the purpose of mining Agricultural
Dolomite.
In accordance with the attached statement of proposed mining, [mining company] was approved to mine to a depth
of 4 metres. Mr Walsgott is concerned that this site has been over mined to a depth of approximately 25 metres
deep and mining has been undertaken in close proximity to the Walsgott residential home. There have been
numerous breaches of the terms of the mining lease as per attached Independent Expert’s Report. We understand
the mining lease expired on the 2nd February 2018.
Due to the various breaches, lack of mining activity for the past seven years and the lack of remedial work to
rehabilitate the land, Mr Walsgott requests that the mining lease not be renewed.
Unfortunately, after that letter, the Walsgotts came into my office and indicated that the department has approved
a new licence for that mine. That is the imbalance that I am talking about. This family has been, with lawyers in
courts, battling the mining company over the lease continually being renewed. Let me tell you that $2,500 is
certainly nowhere near the cost that they have experienced due to no fault of their own, just wanting to farm their
own land.
They are concerned about erosion and the safety of the walls of the quarry, which is now a quarry on their land. An
independent expert said:
…works conducted are examples of some of the worst mining practices observed in over 50 years of [his] mining
experience.
Despite all of this, just two months ago the lease was approved for an additional 10 years. A letter from the
Department for Energy and Mining says:
In considering the application to renew ML5779, the Department took the view that, having regard to all the
circumstances of this matter, the existing compliance issues did not warrant non-renewal of the tenement.
You can imagine how powerless the Walsgotts felt. A farmer’s land is their pride and joy. Now the Walsgotts look out
their window and all they see is an open quarry and damage to their property—their freehold property.
The stress and anxiety that this ongoing battle has caused the Walsgotts is significant. To make matters worse, they
have no idea when the trucks are going to come rumbling through their gates again. As I said before, the Walsgotts
first came to me about this matter in 2014, and I raised it with the then minister for mineral resources development,
the Hon. Tom Koutsantonis. I would like to read the final paragraph of the letter that I received on 30 September,
which says:
Consideration by the Department of an application for renewal of ML5779 is on hold until proceedings before the
Warden’s Court concerning access to ML5779 can be determined. If the Warden’s Court confirms or grants access to
ML5779, then the Department will consider whether the lease should be renewed.
On 16 November, I again wrote to the minister asking why this lease was recently renewed for a further 10 years
when there have been ongoing breaches of the Mining Act. I have received no response to these questions as yet.
There are plenty of questions the Walsgotts want, and I believe deserve, answers to. When will they be able to
access their own land again? How can they plan for the future? What impact will this have on their property’s value?
Most importantly, what are their rights? Stories like this are firm evidence that landholders need a voice in this
process, independent of the minister or the developer.
The state government needs to act in the interests of landowners, and the balance of power needs to be restored.
We have a duty to represent our electorates, and the people in my electorate are telling me they want the right to
refuse mining or exploration on their land. The Mining Act was introduced in 1971 and, as it now stands, does not
make clear the rights of farmers when it comes to exploration on their land.
The review process and amendments are a step in the right direction by the state government, but we need to
ensure that this act represents the interests of and, above all, is fair to South Australian landholders. Our state’s
future farmers depend on it. Community consultation may have been conducted but certainly not in my electorate,
and certainly not concerning the Walsgotts, who would love to sit down and have their input into this part of
legislation.
Our farmers are facing an increasing number of issues, including weather, fluctuating commodity prices, urban
encroachment and drought, just to name a few. They have a lot of things to worry about and, more so, they want to
know whether a mining representative is going to walk through their door with an agreement in their hand. Most
farmers I know would rather be out working the land and putting food on the table than dealing with legislation.
That is our job as MPs, and the people of my electorate are telling me that they want the right to refuse a mining
company access to their land.
In the case of existing leases, South Australian landholders should also have the right to veto the renewal of a mining
lease on their property, particularly if conditions are not being met as agreed. Yesterday, I listened to an interview
on the ABC’s Country Hour with Grain Producers SA Chair, Wade Dabinett, in relation to this bill. His words really
resonated with me. He said that the ‘balance isn’t right’ and that ‘there needs to be a greater consideration of the
impact of agriculture upon this state’ and the importance that it holds.
Last year, Australian Conservatives MP Robert Brokenshire attempted to introduce right-to-farm legislation. He said
that the legislation was about South Australia ‘making a statement that we see farming as paramount’. I
wholeheartedly agree with that comment. We need to show our farmers that we value the conservation and
protection of land for agricultural purposes and also to demonstrate how valuable farming is to South Australia.
People are very passionate and well educated about mining and exploration practices in our region of the Limestone
Coast. Today, I speak for the rights of all Limestone Coast residents and all South Australian landholders. Agricultural
land is a finite resource. It is vital to our state’s economy. There is only so much of it, and once it has gone or eroded
through mining activities it cannot be replaced or rehabilitated. On your land, you deserve the right to say no.
Mr TEAGUE (Heysen) (12:57): In opening, I have listened very carefully to the debate and welcome the contribution
of members on all sides. At the outset, I wish to wholeheartedly endorse what the member for Mount Gambier has
just said in regard to this reform being a step in the right direction: it is just that. It is a reform that has resulted from
a considerable amount of work, including considerable consultation, and it is a step in the right direction.
It is a step in the context of work that will need to continue in this vexed area in which we endeavour to balance the
rights of those on the land, whose land would be accessed and affected, with those who are involved in mineral
extraction industries throughout our state. It is a balancing exercise; it has always been thus. Conscious of the time, I
seek leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 12:59 to 14:00.
STATUTES AMENDMENT (MINERAL RESOURCES) BILL
Second Reading
Adjourned debate on second reading (resumed on motion).
Mr TEAGUE (Heysen) (15:42): I rise to continue my remarks made prior to the adjournment. Prior to the
adjournment, I commenced by recognising the observation of the member for Mount Gambier that the bill that is
before the house is a step in the right direction but a step in the process. There is more to be done, and a process of
ongoing reform in this area must characterise what we do in this place to ensure that, when balancing the rights of
landowners, farmers and communities in our rural and regional areas—some of the most important communities
across our great state—with those who are involved in the mineral extraction industries, we work diligently so as to
ensure that, as far as we possibly can, we get that balance right.
To be clear, we are dealing in South Australia with a regime around the regulation of access to minerals. We know that
in Australia minerals are generally the property of the Crown and not the landholder, and South Australia is no
exception. The Mining Act 1971 has long provided, under section 16(1), that property in all minerals vests in the
Crown. There is no mystery about that. The controversies, such as they are that are the subject of this bill, do not
concern that matter as a matter of principle. It is not so globally.
There are different arrangements in different countries, but in Australia it is long held that that is the case, and South
Australia, pursuant to the Mining Act, has long provided that that is the case. That creates this vexed and challenging
question of how best then to manage the question of access to those minerals. So as to underscore my particular
interest in this area, and before I address briefly some of the key steps that have been taken to improve the position
which previously applied and which are the subject of the bill, I want to note, as I did in my first speech in this place
back in May this year, that I grew up very much aspiring to farming as the greatest thing I could possibly do with my
life.
My forebears on my mother’s side are Western Australian and are farming in the south-west of Western Australia. I
was for a time at the end of primary school at a very small school at Frankland in the south-west of Western Australia,
and my uncle and aunty and grandparents were mixed farmers in that region and still are. My forebears before them,
interestingly in the context of this debate, migrated to Western Australia in the course of the Coolgardie mining boom,
so the original cause for them to come to Australia was associated with mining.
Farming is something that I hold very dear, and I feel very strongly that we must do all we can to ensure that we can
continue to strengthen and support those who are active in our farming and regional communities. Just last Tuesday
morning, I was finding myself in one of those increasingly rare weeks when the day began very early in the welcome
rain, bringing in cattle to bring to market.
It has been an odd sort of spring in that we have gone from a very dry winter to a spring when even late in the day we
might find ourselves getting around in rubber boots, but it was marvellous to be out in country where I know the last
thing I would want is for it to be disturbed in any way by mining activity. So these things I feel very personally. I am
very committed to ensuring that we do all we can to get this balance right.
I just make one further general observation. It may be that it is the view of a lot of people in the state that mining is
conducted largely or exclusively in our pastoral areas. Famously, we know all about Roxby Downs, and we know about
OZ Minerals’ work at Prominent Hill and soon to be at Carrapateena and the longstanding mining activity in the
Cooper Basin. However, mining is certainly not exclusively carried out in our pastoral areas; indeed, mining activities
are conducted throughout the state.
To go to the other end of the spectrum, within my electorate of Heysen and in the former suburb of Dorset Vale,
which is now part of Scott Creek Conservation Park, many will be aware of the Almanda silver mine complex, an early,
small, someone might say quaint or antique mining endeavour, but something that highlights that there we were with
a mining activity carried on more or less in suburban Adelaide in times gone by. So the challenge to get this right is
not simply about imposing appropriate checks and balances on mining activity in the remote parts of our state: it
relates to all of our state and to families and communities in all corners. It is a very important challenge.
I will keep my remarks brief in highlighting what I regard as a key step in the right direction in terms of what the bill
has achieved. Having commenced my remarks on that note, I will step through it briefly. It is the subject of clause 9 of
the bill. It introduces for the first time, in section 9AA of the act, a new subsection (8a). New subsection (8a) will
provide, for the first time, for an owner of land who has the benefit of an exemption under section 9 and has given to
the tenement holder relevant notice pursuant to new subsection (1a) of a dispute in relation to the entry the
opportunity to apply to the appropriate court for orders.
The reason I want to bring particular attention to that provision and to highlight this aspect of the reform as an
important step forward is that, for a long time, the Mining Act has provided for a procedural regime that is very much
driven by the activities of those involved in the mineral extraction industry, those on the mining side, to take the steps
that they would take in order to pursue necessary permissions. New subsection (8a) provides for steps to be taken by
the owner of land to pursue their own remedies and their own orders in circumstances where they are pressed to do
so due to a dispute.
That is a step in the right direction, and it is part of a substantial body of reform that has reflected a considerable
amount of work over the early course of this government, as well as work that has taken place over the course of
recent years. I want to stress that this is a step. Further reform will be required. Those of us who represent the regional
parts of our state, indeed the rural and remote parts of our state, are also particularly engaged in this debate.
However, all members of this house should be acutely aware of the importance to our whole state of getting the
balance right between the interests of those involved in the mining industry and those who are on the land.
I also want to reflect briefly on the fact that land use across the board will remain a challenging, if not vexed, issue for
a number of reasons. We know that the loss of agricultural land is something that we keenly feel in this state. We have
a very scarce and limited amount of prime agricultural country in the state, relative to the area of the state.
We have already seen, in recent years, large swathes of some of our best country being converted for use, particularly
in my part of the Adelaide Hills, as residential development. That is a development that will remain challenging for
communities that are in and around the areas that were formerly farmed as agricultural country.
Whether it be a question of conversion for residential purposes or, in this case, the challenging balance that needs to
be achieved between the interests of miners and farmers, we must ensure that we keep a clear eye on ensuring that
we maximise, as far as possible, both the productivity and the health of our agricultural land and those communities
that live and work on the land. With those remarks, I commend the bill to the house.
Mr CREGAN (Kavel) (15:55): Mining and agriculture are vital state industries. When both industries prosper, we
improve our material wealth and our social security. Both mining and agriculture depend on access to land. Miners’
access to land must be balanced against farmers’ rights and the need to preserve the best farming land in the state.
Only about 4 per cent of South Australia’s land is suitable for productive farming. Some of that land is in the Adelaide
Hills, where there is good soil, high rainfall and clean aquifers for summer water.
I made a promise to my community before the election and I want to keep it. That promise was to ensure adequate
consultation on mining legislation. As a shadow minister at the time said, we cannot progress this bill until the local
communities have a chance to have their say. As matters stand, consultation has been inadequate. Much of the
consultation was designed and conducted by Labor. We should not have much confidence in that process. Labor does
not understand farmers or farming communities and has, over many years, acted to diminish or ignore their interests.
We will always stand up for farming communities and for farming families.
The regulations to this bill, which do much of its work, were received by me in November. It is still November. I cannot
effectively consult with my community in that period. I sought to persuade my colleagues of the value of a number of
amendments to the bill. Those amendments were not successful. We also sought to have a harvest moratorium on this
legislation for a short period to allow harvest to finish. For these and other reasons, it would be better to adjourn this
bill to allow more consultation.
I want to place on record my thanks to the minister for working with me and others to develop the scope of further
consultation that will allow the passage of this legislation. It is a measure of the strength of our party that we can
express views on any subject openly and freely and reserve our right to vote differently from any decision of the party
room. That right forms part of our platform and party rules. We are the only major party to afford its members that
right. It is a valuable right; it is a right that gives our electorates confidence that we will always represent their interests.
The best approach in politics is to be frank and fearless.
My commitment to Kavel is non-negotiable. In my view, this bill does not adequately balance the rights of small
farmers against miners’ rights. That balance is important in my community. I want to thank the minister, the Premier
and my colleagues for being supportive and understanding of my position. I particularly want to thank the Premier,
who encouraged me to enter politics and who has been an outstanding leader and friend. I hold the minister in the
same esteem. The minister has a difficult task; we respect that. The fact that I do not support this bill at this time is not
a reflection on the new government, which is one of the best in the country.
As I said, the flawed consultation was started by Labor and is infected with their errors. My comments are a mark of
confidence in the robust debate that is openly permitted on our side of the chamber. Only a healthy, confident party
and a good government focused on the needs of all South Australians in both urban and farming communities would
permit the open and free nature of the debate we will see in the chamber today. That is also the mark of a healthy
democracy.
There being a disturbance in the strangers’ gallery:
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Before I call the member for Finniss, can I remind the visitors in the public gallery that they are
to refrain from being involved in the proceedings of the day. You are very welcome to watch, but you need to do so in
silence. Thank you.
Mr BASHAM (Finniss) (16:00): I rise to speak on the Statutes Amendment (Mineral Resources) Bill 2018. I reflect on
some comments the member for Mount Gambier made about the balance. I am very much in agreeance with both him
and the member for Heysen that the current act is not balanced. The weighting to the mining sector is out of weight of
what it should be in relation to farming.
Like the member for Heysen, I believe that this bill moves part way to addressing some of that. It may not go as far as
some may like at this time, but there are further opportunities. The minister has given assurances that following this
bill, if it passes, there will be further consultation and procedures to make sure that we see if we can get a better piece
of legislation going forward. I guess my concern is: let’s lock this in. Let’s make sure that we get this legislation locked
in and then move forward so that we then end up with something better in the future. We need to make sure that we
do not lose what we have gained in this process.
I have also been a little disappointed by some of the discussion in public. I was at an event on Sunday where a radio
personality was launching an art book with a poetry session joined with it. Peter Goers decided that was an
opportunity to have a go at the Liberal Party and the way it was discussing this bill. I thought it was unfortunate that
he did that in the way he did. I had no right of reply to the 150 people he was talking to at the time. He just got up
and made a statement saying that we needed to stop this, and it was a very uninformed view that he had at the time.
He gave me no opportunity to sit down with him and understand, and I think it is very disappointing that that has
been his approach.
As a farmer myself, I certainly understand the pressures that face us, the pressures that we have on our land and on
that of our neighbours. I live in an area where urban encroachment has certainly been facing my farm and put
enormous pressures on what we do and how we do it, but we also have the pressure of the increasing value of our
land. Can we stay where we are, or are we being effectively forced out by the increased value of our land, looking for
future opportunities to get a return on our capital investment because our land is now worth so much that we cannot
make that sort of return out of farming?
There are many different pressures. The property pressure on my farm, for example, is very clear. As I drove down our
road, which is 16 kilometres long, I did a quick sum: there are seven commercial farms left on that road and at least 38
hobby farms. Commercial farmers have maybe only a third of the total land now; the other two-thirds are basically lost
to commercial agriculture. So we have all these other pressures that we have to deal with. I would like to include in
future discussions within our party the question of how we can bring some of that land back into active agricultural
production because it is important that we do not lose large sections of land to waste in that regard.
The mining industry is certainly an important part of the state. It employs 26,000 people, production is valued at $5.2
billion, exports are valued at $3.8 billion and royalties to government amount to $214 million. We need to make sure
that we look after the mining industry just as we look after agriculture. Agriculture is also very important, with similar
figures: there are 9,500 farms, with production valued at $7.2 billion and exports valued at $6.2 billion. Both are
extremely important to the economy of South Australia, and we need to make sure that we protect them and that we
can find the right balance.
This bill goes to improve the act from where it is now. The last thing I want to see is the current act left in place as it is.
We cannot do that. The pressure that is putting on people is just unfair. We need to move forward, and I think that
what is being proposed does help us to move forward part way but, like others, I also believe that more can be done. I
am very thankful that the minister has made the commitments, and I will hold him to those—that we need to go out
there and consult further going forward, and we must do that.
It is important that we make sure that we are protecting the communities—protecting not just the farmers, not just the
miners, but the whole community. If we make dramatic changes to this act that cause a dramatic effect in one go, we
could see dramatic effects in those communities. We could see an exodus from mining, or we could see an exodus
from farming if we get the balance wrong, so we have to be very careful and very considered in the way we progress
this bill and make changes to the act.
Mining has also been undertaken in the seat of Finniss; although certainly not on a large scale, there are significant
mining operations in the seat of Finniss. Mount Compass is a clear example of mining operations that occur right
alongside the town. There are three sand mines in Mount Compass that operate commercially. Every day of the week,
sand is shipped out of those mines and transported to Adelaide. They have done many different things over the years
with that sand; a lot is used for making glass and at times has even been used to replenish the beaches. Those sand
mines have operated right alongside the town, and part of one of those sand mines has been rehabilitated into the
Mount Compass Golf Course and subdivision, so in time we have seen a significant change in that space.
There are also other mines within the area. At Tooperang, another sand mine is currently supplying sand into Adelaide
for glass and operates for about 16 hours a day, with trucks constantly travelling up the road to keep that sand
moving into Adelaide. In Victor Harbor, the quarry that operates on the outskirts, next to the Victor Harbor golf course,
has recently written to neighbouring residents informing them that it is modernising their agreements, etc., and having
those conversations that are covered under this act.
There is also a history of mining in the area. My family had a copper mine on its property at Port Elliot, and most
people are probably unaware that copper was actually mined there at one stage. If you walk along the bike track
between Middleton and Port Elliot, just before the track departs from the railway line is an area on the left with some
old wooden fences around a hole in the ground. That is an old shaft that was a copper mine back in the 1850s. So
even right down there alongside the coast there has historically been exploration and copper mining going on.
It is certainly sad that we have this issue where we cannot find a balance that makes everyone comfortable that we
have reached the right balance. I am not sure we will ever find a position where everyone is happy, but we are moving
towards something that does improve it for the farming community. We need to keep that journey going; we have
started that journey with this bill, and we need to keep it going.
I understand the emotion behind this. As a farmer and landholder I understand; my farm has been my home. I
understand that for generations farmers have had their farm as their home, and to have these challenges brought to
them is very difficult to deal with, so we do need to make sure we get the balance closer to being right. I believe this
bill does move it closer to being right. I do not think it is perfect and I think it will need more investigation, but we
need to make sure we move that way.
Within all this space we have to recognise that compromise is needed. There will be a need for some compromise, and
there will be a need for some give on both sides, to actually find where that balance is. I am very happy to support the
bill the minister has put forward, and I thank him for bringing it to the house. I would like to see the bill passed.
Hopefully, it will support the farmers going forward and, going forward, I would like to see a further continuation to
improve this bill as well.
Mr ELLIS (Narungga) (16:12): I rise today to state my firm opposition to this bill, the Statutes Amendment (Mineral
Resources) Bill. I state that I will not be able to support this bill in its current form until significant amendments are
agreed to. This bill is too eerily similar to a bill those opposite tried to push through when last in government; in fact, I
have even heard it referred to as such by the minister, and that alone should be reason enough for people on this side
of the chamber to oppose the bill.
I took great delight in driving from farmhouse to farmhouse during the state election campaign decrying the previous
government’s attempt at a mining bill. Basically, I stopped in at the houses of farmers and made three points to them. I
said that the balance had not been achieved between competing land uses, that there had not been enough
meaningful and legitimate consultation and that they were trying to ram this through at harvest right when farmers
were in their busiest time. Needless to say, each farmer was already aware of the ills being perpetuated against them
and were incensed that something so impactful could be conducted in such a disrespectful way.
While I was at each farmer’s house, I looked them right in the eye and said words to the effect of, ‘Don’t worry, the
Liberal Party is the party of regional South Australia and I will do my best to make sure this doesn’t happen under our
watch.’ I did this with the consent and even the accompaniment of MPs in this building at that time. Indeed, that
commitment remains in writing on the GPSA website, promising to consult in a thorough and meaningful way because
the Labor bill does not get the issue of competing land uses right.
That letter was from a former minister for primary industries, and it was pleasing to note his support as the former
shadow and disappointing to note that that support appears to have changed with portfolios. That being the case, I
now feel obliged to do my utmost to ensure that this does not happen under our watch, and I fully intend to deliver
on the promise I made, at the very least.
This new government has done a great deal of good for farmers in South Australia: ESL bill reductions, which were
disproportionately affecting regional landowners; the waiving of stamp duty on multi-peril crop insurance; and
mandatory farm debt mediation for those in financial difficulty—a great deal of good. Unfortunately, this bill is not one
of those goods, and it will all be for naught if farmers are forced from their land because politicians prioritise mining
over what are existing, sustainable and viable family businesses.
The timing of this bill is incredibly disappointing. The government is repeating the errors of the previous Labor
government. We have scheduled the bill for debate in the midst of harvest, and not just any harvest but a very difficult
one. Quite a few farmers from around the state are counting the cost of a relatively dry year and pinching pennies to
ensure that they have enough seed to plant in the hope of a better year ahead. The only thing that can make a dry
year worse is a storm right in the midst of harvest, which South Australia endured last week, adding to the stress levels
for primary producers altogether.
As I said, the only thing that could make a dry year worse is a storm. Those who were not lucky enough to get their
crops harvested prior to the storm, hail, wind and all the other elements hitting are likely counting the cost that comes
along with that storm. I note more untimely rain today, which has allowed the gallery to be so full. There was no need
to impose this extra, unnecessary stress of bringing on the bill, which impacts them directly, for debate while our food
producers have had to deal with a difficult harvest. It would have been my great preference if the bill could have been
debated outside harvest and we presented a party room paper with an option for a harvest moratorium and time to
engage in thorough and meaningful consultation like we promised, but, unfortunately, that was voted down.
Those who know me and those who are starting to know me understand that I do not oppose my party easily, but
such is the discontent among Narungga constituents about the legitimacy of the consultation that Labor entered into
during their attempt to revamp the mining bill last year—the same consultation that my party has relied on to reform
the mining bill—that I feel I must. The landowners of the electorate view the consultation as a sham, with delegates at
information sessions there simply to tick off a box. They were there to tell the farmers how the bill was going to be
constructed, not to earnestly listen to their submissions.
I remember that even the guide to the bill, the glossy feature that Labor released, selectively quoted from the ag
sector. I recall vividly that former GPSA CEO Darren Arney’s submission on behalf of Grain Producers South Australia in
the glossy report only featured the part of the submission that endorsed a small part of the bill. That suited their
argument, not the plethora of objections that GPSA had lodged. It was outrageous but, as I have already alluded to,
the former government did not believe it had the electoral imperatives to produce a mining act. They did not believe
they had the electoral imperatives to produce one that benefited regional South Australia, but this government does
and should produce a mining bill that is markedly different from the one currently on the table.
Unlike the previous government, we care what the electorate thinks. I remain immensely proud to be part of the
Marshall Liberal government, and even with the disagreements I have voiced around the bill it is a tremendous honour
to be part of a government that cares. I would like to acknowledge the Premier for his tremendous leadership thus far.
We need to ensure that we continue to listen in this case. Lobbyists, peak bodies and industry groups are all important
and need to be listened to, but it is the people on the front line who deal with these issues who are the most
important in this case. In this case, they are the farmers. They need to be listened to and, importantly, they need to
actually be heard.
On this front, I applaud the minister, who has visited Maitland twice, on the second occasion fronting a rather hostile
crowd organised at a farming forum in Maitland by the Yorke Peninsula Landowners Group. People attended the
forum from every district in the electorate, from Foul Bay to Port Broughton. It really was an extraordinary turnout and
quite a few impassioned pleas were made on that night asking for help from the minister. A number of motions were
passed and, as an interesting aside, the Liberal Party Rural and Regional Council passed an identical resolution
recently.
On that night, a number of motions were passed and I was to judge those amendments or motions as having passed
unanimously. Certainly, there was absolutely overwhelming support. Unfortunately, the Liberal party room did not see
fit to endorse those amendments when I presented them, despite my strongest argument and the clear, obvious will of
the people—the people whose support I relied on to be elected as their representative in this place. Needless to say,
their views and needs remain very important to me and will be for as long as I am member for Narungga.
The issue of balancing competing land uses is undoubtedly a difficult one—there is no denying that. However,
landowners own the land above those minerals, and existing law has it that it is okay for their valuable asset to be
destroyed in order for mining companies to access those minerals. An asset that carries value, the prized soil that they
own, and, in many cases, their families have owned and cared for 150 years—the dirt that mines grain, if you like, and
can do so with certainty for 150 more years at least—is far less valued than the mineral mine, often for a mine with a
life as short as 13 years. Only on a guess of what might be under the ground is that benefit of land ownership waived.
Even people from the mining sector acknowledge that it is impossible to remediate an open-cut mine, which can be
450 metres deep and a kilometre square wide, to anything like it was before the mine commenced.
The economic contribution of agriculture to our state is a vital one that deserves recognition. Enough arable land is
being absorbed by urban sprawl, changing climate conditions and other such factors that our arable land is becoming
increasingly scarce. At the same time that is happening, the world population is growing significantly and rapidly.
There continues to be an increasing number of mouths that need to be fed and a decreasing land mass capable of
producing the food that can do so. I would even make the argument that arable land is as precious a resource, and
increasingly precious, as any mineral that can be found under the ground, particularly when exploration mapping
shows there is an abundance of copper and other elements still waiting to be mined further north on pastoral lands
where mining is a more expected and welcomed activity that has prospered the state for generations.
I note a story in today’s Advertiser regarding further discovery of minerals near Carrapateena. That is called ‘having
your cake and eating it too’ when we dig up prime cropping land that is used to feed the nation. The agricultural
industry in South Australia contributes 4.56 per cent of the gross state product from approximately 5 per cent of the
state’s arable land that, by definition, is prime cropping land.
Across Australia, other states have valued their arable land through more legislation of stronger rights for farmers, the
same rights I am advocating for today. They do so with less reliance on ag in their GSP. I cite New South Wales as an
example, which has 17 per cent of its land considered arable, with ag contributing only 2 per cent of its GSP.
Queensland’s GSP features only 3.2 per cent from the ag industry, while Western Australia, which is the model I prefer
for competing land use, has only a 3.86 per cent contribution to the GSP.
Of all cited jurisdictions, South Australia relies most heavily on ag, and always has done, to fuel its state’s economy, yet
we are the state that offers least legislative protection to farmers. Why have we lagged behind? The grapes and wheat
that feature so prominently on this carpet are evidence of our longstanding reliance. To suggest that that reliance is
fading is a folly, and that mining needs to be encouraged because it provides us with growth opportunity is also a
folly.
In the 2016-17 financial year, the agricultural contribution towards the gross state product grew by 30 per cent. Our
farmers are getting better, producing more with less and creating a wider range of produce. Off-farm development
continues to improve as well. Technology development in machinery is astounding. I know very little about the
intricacies of farm machinery, but every time I visit the Paskeville Field Days there seems to be a new feature, a new
machine or a development that is pushing farming into the future.
There is great excitement in science as well, particularly if the independent review into GM crops recommends that
they finally be permitted in South Australia. That permission, if it is granted, will spur on a new wave of research and
development in a field that has not been allowed to progress. The opportunities it could create in a sector that has
been completely untapped in South Australia are exciting. In my opinion, ag is a real growth area. Its importance to
the state has not diminished since this carpet was designed and does not look like diminishing any time soon.
Giving freehold landowners full autonomy over their land is, in my view, an inherently Liberal thing to do. We are the
party of small government, free enterprise and individual freedom. There is nothing Liberal about prioritising one
private enterprise over another because it is perceived to be more lucrative in the short term. It is inconceivable to me
that a government would knock on the door of a generational cafe in metropolitan Adelaide and order them to leave
because the government would prefer that a car yard be built for the increased payroll tax it would receive. However,
in regional South Australia the government knocks on the door of farmers and says, ‘We would prefer the royalties
that come along with a mine, so you have to vacate your home and business.’ We respect the cafe owner’s right to
freedom to operate the business, but not the farmer’s. The question I ask is: why?
A Liberal government should have no need for a short-term cash injection. This is supposed to be a government
focused on responsible spending of taxpayer money and leaving people to determine their own destiny. Continuing to
allow the court to find in favour of the miner 100 per cent of the time forces the exemption clause in the Mining Act
that was designed to protect him and her to be waived—and at a considerable personal expense to boot.
There is no individual freedom in having your land taken away from you against your will because the government
prioritises an alternative use. That said, there are other options in other jurisdictions that would present workable
solutions for South Australia. Both New South Wales and Queensland use planning law to ensure that vital agricultural
land is protected. That could be appropriated here for use in South Australia, but there needs to be greater protection
for farmers. This act clearly is in need of a major revamp and not minor tweaks.
I also respectfully disagree with our plan to push the current minor amendments made to the bill through phase 1 on
the promise of a more thorough look at access rights in phase 2. I would like to know why the reform cannot happen
in one thorough process. The need for those amendments was canvassed in a grieve I delivered in this place during
the previous sitting week.
The Harrop family, who are in the gallery today, have had to put up with an almost two-year courtroom battle. It is a
perfect example of a big, powerful mining company trying to wield its impressive power over what is essentially a
small family-owned business. I give credit to Neil and Jackie, who, in trying personal circumstances, have refused to be
intimidated by the power imbalance and fought it all the way. Despite being grossly in the wrong, in my personal
opinion, the mining company continues to drag things out because it can. This is part of the imbalance of rights that
we need to redress.
Interestingly enough, I received correspondence from a former employee of this company. I will keep the
correspondence from this employee confidential, but I can assure this place that it is legitimate. I would like to read
out parts of the employee’s email, if I could. I quote:
I will say that their behaviour (the behaviour of the mining company) is not uncommon in the mineral and mining industry. Bullying of
landowners, freehold or perpetual lease, seems to be an accepted way to operate. It is only after becoming aware of the situation on Yorke
Peninsula and delving deep into the role of DEM and other government departments that I realised that farmers have little in the way of
reasonable rights and that there are no consequences for mineral explorers or miners doing the wrong thing. DEM are very reluctant to
penalise breaches of the Mining Act and actively provide shortcuts for miners to obtain licences and approvals.
I have worked in the mineral exploration industry for over 30 years. I have to now conclude that many operators in this industry are happy
to willingly breach exploration and mining conditions and not fulfil their obligation to landholders. The Harrop’s situation is not a one-off. I
have to now agree with farmers and keep the gates shut.
These are words from within the industry acknowledging exactly what I am trying to rectify today. There are mining
companies out there that are voluntarily breaching the rules because they can, because the power imbalance with
regard to both size of operation and legal backing allows them to do so. This needs to be rectified.
Other amendments I have discussed privately with other members regarding a solution to the land access issue fall
short, in my opinion. It is my view that it is important that any solution actually gives farmers the ability to alter the
result of an approach by a mining company. Other amendments merely seek to frustrate the process more and to drag
it out and make it harder. That does not even the balance, in my opinion.
Larger mining companies are still better placed to withstand an elongated process. We can make landowners jump
through as many hoops as imaginable—many mediation sessions, compulsory negotiation, site visits, extra
compensation, and so on—but if farmers are not granted the ability to change the result what is the point of going
through the process? If the result is predetermined, as it is now, the process will only cause greater financial strain and
misguided hope for farmers and, at the end of it all, the result will mean they are displaced from home and business.
One of the things I prefer about the Liberal Party over other parties is the focus on making things happen, rather than
just talking about things. There is a focus on action, not discussion. If we do not give farmers the ability to alter the
result, all the changes are moot. In summary, I commend this government, minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan and the
Premier for the things this government has done for primary producers already.
The Liberal Party is a fantastic party for allowing its members to express points of view freely, without fear of
reprimand from the party. To constituents and industry stakeholders, for the overwhelming support that I have
received from the electorate in advocating for this change, I say thank you. They inspire me, and it is not just the
farming community that is supportive. A great deal of Narungga residents who do not farm appreciate what freehold
land should mean—an unalienable right to possess that land and do whatever one wishes to do on that land.
I implore members of this place to take this opportunity to rethink this bill. This is an important opportunity we have
to have a vision for what the future of South Australia looks like. Let’s have a long-term look at this thing, further away
than election cycles and even our respective careers in this place. Bearing in mind the wheat on the carpet and the
infinite future it provides our state, we need to ensure we care for it.
I note that there is support from the Greens and SA-Best in the upper house to amend this bill to provide some
support for the long-term vision. They recognise, as I and a number of my colleagues do, that this bill does not go far
enough. The balance between farmer and miner is significantly out of kilter and needs to be rectified. Having the
foresight to protect our agricultural land will not mean the end of mining in South Australia. It only makes up less than
5 per cent of the state and there is plenty of dirt up north that would be welcome hosts of mining. We need to be a
state that truly provides an appropriate balance between mining and agriculture with fruitful results for both.
I will not oppose this bill at the second reading because I would wish the debate to proceed to committee so that the
merits of amendments can be fleshed out properly. Having said that, I wholeheartedly reserve my right to oppose this
bill after the third reading.
There being a disturbance in the strangers’ gallery:
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Please, ladies and gentlemen, I remind you that you are not to applaud.
An honourable member: Let them clap.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: No. Seriously, you are very welcome here today, but you need to watch the proceedings in
silence. I know you have—
Mr Cregan: It’s a long way down, Pete. Come on.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Member for Kavel—otherwise I am going to have to ask you to leave, so please desist from
that, despite the contribution for the member for Narungga. The member for Davenport has the call.
Mr MURRAY (Davenport) (16:31): Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and can I thank the members for Kavel and
Narungga for their help in calming things down in matters already spoken.
I rise to speak to the Statutes Amendment (Mineral Resources) Bill. It pains me immensely to advise the house that,
after considerable research, discussion and angst, I cannot in all conscience support this bill. I will not oppose the bill
in this second reading, but I reserve my right to oppose the bill at the third reading subject to the progress of
amendments flagged for the committee stage of the bill.
As a former state president of the state Liberal Party as late as last year, and as a long-term member of and volunteer
for the party, it is instinctive for me to support the Liberal Party. Accordingly, it is incredibly difficult for me not to
support this bill, but I am convinced that, in the words of my late father, I am ‘doing the right thing’.
Before moving to briefly cover the reasons for my stance, I wish to pay tribute to Premier Steven Marshall, minister
Dan van Holst Pellekaan and all my colleagues in the government. I greatly appreciate that we have conducted matters
in a mature, constructive and respectful manner. I have sought the consideration of and adoption by my colleagues of
a variety of models and/or regimes principally but not exclusively related to land access.
I thank the minister and my colleagues for the favourable consideration of one of my suggested amendments
pertaining to exempt land. Although I have been largely unsuccessful in my attempts, everyone involved in this debate
has been without exception polite, gracious and respectful of our differing opinions. I remain proud to be part of a
government which is delivering for South Australians and which is being led and run by our Premier in the finest of
Liberal and Westminster traditions.
By way of personal background, as a Liberal I love that we stand for liberty for small businesses and for property rights
and especially the right to have and espouse a view. I am pro mining and pro agriculture, but most of all my highest
loyalty is to the people in Davenport and the people of South Australia.
Agriculture and mining have played a big part in my life. I grew up in the country. All four of my grandparents came
off farms. My dad worked at the Kanmantoo copper mine in the early 1970s driving a 100-tonne Terex truck and
operating the drilling rigs in preparation for blasting. It was comparatively well paid but dirty and dangerous work. The
mine has closed and reopened over the years due to the fluctuation in copper prices. He went on to work for many
years at Horwood Bagshaw Ltd and later with Claas.
I, too, worked for Horwood Bagshaw as a young man. I grew up in the town of Mannum, in which Horwood Bagshaw
is based. It may surprise my friend the member for Hammond to learn that Horwood Bagshaw also had a mining
division in my time with them, making successful underground ore loaders and importing the Liebherr range of
construction and mining equipment.
When I was growing up, the pre-Christmas period in my home was filled with frantic after-hours phone calls to our
home from farmers from Wimmera, the Mid North, Yorke Peninsula and Eyre Peninsula, placing spare parts orders in
order to get harvest done. Drum bars, concaves, straw walkers and my personal favourite, the riddle box, and
innumerable other parts were ordered and delivered posthaste, such was the importance of the harvest. I have an
affinity for the vagaries and special needs of both industries, and I have accordingly sought, unsuccessfully, a harvest
moratorium whilst this bill is being considered.
Turning to my electorate, it has a substantial amount of agricultural land in the Hills area, especially around Cherry
Gardens. Davenport is home to the historic Mount Malvern silver and lead mine, which opened and closed on at least
five separate occasions between 1859 and 1925. That particular mine, and especially its tailings dumps, was apparently
the cause of the moat around large parts of the Happy Valley Reservoir. The moat is designed to channel run-off
water, including that from the tailings, which still exist, away from the reservoir itself. Mount Malvern, whilst now in
private hands, is four kilometres up the hill from my home. I note that the member for Heysen has also referred to
other mines in the area, primarily the silver mine at Scott Creek. So much for the background.
Turning now to the problems I have with this particular bill, they fall primarily into three categories; the first is land
access issues, which in particular, in my view, mean that people are not put first. This in turn leads to conflict. Everyone
knows that farmers are often preyed upon, predominantly by unscrupulous explorers as distinct from miners, and noone
cares or, if they do, not enough to actually do anything about it. There are no industry codes and there is little
prospect of any censure or court action for perpetrators. It is literally the wild west.
No-one, not SACOME and no government department, is sticking up for farmers in their battles or preventing them
from being preyed upon—no-one. The members for Narungga and Mount Gambier have provided us with graphic
examples of the total disregard shown by some miners and explorers and the complete lack of any meaningful redress.
The second problem I have in regard to the bill before the house is its structure, especially the extensive use of
regulations and ministerial determinations. I will detail that further. The final issue I have is one of process; that is, the
process we follow.
Turning now to land access, mining and agriculture are both vital state industries and have been for many years. This is
true today with Roxby Downs and the broadacre farms on Yorke Peninsula and Eyre Peninsula, as it was with Moonta
and Burra and farms on and around the Adelaide Plains 140 years ago. Since the 1880s, legislation from this place has
always rendered agricultural land exempt from mining, usually evidenced by some sort of test of the use the land is
put to. If it was cultivated or had features supporting cultivation—for example, dams, etc.—that land was exempt from
mining; that is, being very clear, the state’s right to enable access to any minerals on a property was always limited if
the land was agricultural land.
Over time, there has been a continuous erosion of the real value of that exemption such that it is now often close to
worthless. It is worth reiterating at this stage that minerals on a property are still always owned by the State of South
Australia and its people, rather than by the landowner. There is, however, a substantive difference for some
landowners. Let’s take an example: a churchyard, schoolyard, graveyard, or backyard are all always exempt from
mining.
A farmyard, on the other hand, is exempt, too, that is until one of two things occurs: the owner is forced to court to
hand the land over for exploration and/or mining, or the owner is threatened into signing a waiver, enabling that
access by way of relinquishing their exemption, which anecdotally is very common. The end result is the conflict or
competition we see between the two parties, farmers and miners/explorers, for access to land. That conflict persists
with this bill.
Additionally, there is an argument made to support the status quo insofar as land access is concerned, which states
that the state owns the minerals and therefore farmers should always give way to activities that liberate or explore
those minerals. That is true, but by the same token the state owns any minerals under Rundle Mall, St Peter’s, your
home or your business. Their existence does not automatically mean that they have to be exploited. ‘Exempt’ means
just that in these cases. Why not for farming land, too? To be crystal clear, I want more mining in South Australia but
not at the expense of people, as is the case now. It is possible to get this fixed so that both agriculture and mining can
move forward. It is way past time we addressed it.
Turning now to the people, simply put, the people who live and work on these farms are South Australians just like us.
They are predominantly family-owned small businesses. In many cases, they are multigenerational, the property and
businesses having been handed down from one generation to the other. They deserve to be able to live in their homes
and go about their business without being dragged to court or threatened with legal action unless they acquiesce and
allow some other group of strangers onto their property. Everyone knows this is happening, but no-one is doing
anything about it. This is not addressed in this bill, when, in my opinion, it should be the first item we deal with.
In my maiden speech in this place, I set myself a standard of: ‘If not us, then who? If not now, then when?’ If this were
happening in suburban Adelaide—people being harassed in their homes, lied to or threatened—there would be an
uproar. This behaviour is a direct result of the existing act, and the new one will, if anything, make life harder for these
farmers in my opinion. The vote on this bill is therefore, in my view, a vote on whether these farmers, these South
Australians, deserve better. I think they do and I will vote accordingly.
Moving to the structure and the consideration of the bill, I think that many of the provisions in the old act will now be
moved into either regulations or ministerial determinations under this new bill. This effectively means that whoever is
in the minister’s chair will have greater discretion, but with that come less accountability and transparency. Changes
are far easier to make. Today’s debate shows the value of parliament operating as intended: an open battle of ideas
conducted by people representing the rights of their constituents. That is our job description.
A move to devolve much of the machinery of the act to regulations, especially many of the provisions pertaining to
land access, decreases transparency. It effectively removes those provisions from parliamentary scrutiny and oversight.
By way of example, the steps required under the new act to cancel a waiver that has been granted—that is to say, cool
off on the waiver—are enshrined in the current act. Under the new act, they are removed and will instead be
embedded into the regulations. They are harder to find, subject to change, and therefore harder to do. What a
surprise!
I move now to the question of process: perception is reality. There is a strong belief in sectors of the community that
there have been insufficient consultation and insufficient time to consult on matters regarding the bill. This is
obviously a subjective metric, but I reiterate: perception is reality. My preference is that we will consult further, if only
to address those perceptions. If we must have much of the detail of the new act buried in regulations, let us consult on
all those, too.
Finally, insofar as next steps are concerned, I will continue to seek to work productively with the minister and other
stakeholders to seek to improve this bill, particularly provisions and associated remedies which improve the equality of
treatment of all landowners. I am encouraged in this regard by discussions with the minister and the prospect of
further legislative developments pertaining to this matter. I will continue to put my constituents and the broader South
Australian community first. I came to this place to get things done and to do what I perceive to be right. I shall
continue to seek to do, as my father instructed, the right thing.
Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (16:45): I rise to support the Statutes Amendment (Mineral Resources) Bill 2018. The
debate is not dissimilar to the debate we had with the deregulation of the barley market in this house.
The Hon. J.R. Rau: I voted the right way.
Mr PEDERICK: Thank you. I mention that because we are the party that has the freedom to speak out and for people
to put the point of view of their electorates, and I absolutely respect that.
The Hon. A. Koutsantonis: So do we.
Mr PEDERICK: Sorry, I do laugh at the shadow minister’s comment, ‘So do we.’
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order in the house! The member for Hammond has the call and will be heard in silence.
Mr PEDERICK: Thank you. The last time I looked, the Labor Party spoke as one. Perhaps they have had a road to
Damascus moment, although I doubt it.
I do support the bill. I support it because this is actually an improvement on a mining act that goes back to the early
1970s. I struggle with the fact that we have people willing to challenge this legislation. I respect that, as I said before,
but the simple fact is that this is an improvement: it is an improvement regarding land access and it is an improvement
regarding the time for people to be allowed to communicate, whether it is the mining company or the farmer. There is
a whole range of improvements, and a whole range of improvements will come over time with the second and third
phases of legislative change in relation to access to our minerals in this state.
I think the very important thing we must remember here is that the Crown owns the minerals. I speak as a fifthgeneration
farmer, if anyone has any doubts. My family came out here in 1840 and farmed at Plympton. What
happened there? Urban encroachment. They went out to Angle Vale. In 1939, my grandfather lost a patch for the
weapons dumps through compulsory acquisition. In 1950, he lost some more land to the Edinburgh RAAF Base.
When my father moved to Coomandook, I think he thought he had probably seen all the compulsory acquisition for a
little while. In the early 1970s, they decided to move the Dukes Highway and we had 7½ acres, in the old language,
bought off us, but we were well compensated: it was about 2½ times the value and had some new fencing. That is not
directly part of access arrangements under the Mining Act, but we have certainly been impacted. Certainly, the urban
encroachment I believe has had 1,000 times more impact on farmland in this state than mining has; in fact, mining is
said to cover no more land than the footprint of the hotel car parks in this state.
A lot of misinformation gets out there, and I have heard stories that whole tracts of land will be mined. A very good
friend of mine, a knowledgeable man—I will not identify him—said, ‘They will dig up the whole of Yorke Peninsula.’ I
said, ‘It just won’t happen. It’s just not feasible on a range of levels.’ They are struggling even to get their money to dig
the hillside. The mining company own that land, and the chance of a second mine at that level in a hundred years is
extremely minimal. There is also a real issue with people who think that they can just block the Crown out.
Like many farmers’ sons, I come from a background of needing the opportunity to head off to work in the industry.
Another brother came home, but I worked in the Cooper Basin for two years earthmoving on Caterpillar equipment,
mainly scrapers: a 639D twin power and a 623B single power. We were building leases for oil rigs, airstrips and roads. It
was a great job and a great way to introduce life in the desert to a 19 year old.
A year later, I worked for Gerhardt Australia and was involved in fracturing oil wells and wireline testing. I say that
because some people seem to think that it is okay to mine up north of the Goyder line but nowhere south of that. The
water resources in the north, the Artesian Basin, are very precious. We had the practice of not only low-volume
fracking for oil and gas up there but unconventional fracturing is happening now and station owners can still access
untarnished water. I put that out there by way of background.
I want to talk about the mines, and I call them the suburban mines, either in my electorate or they have been in my
electorate. The Mindarie mine was foreshadowed in the early 2000s. The Mallee farmers were having a lot of trouble,
but they could not seem to get any other farmers across the state to back them and lobby for them to work out access
issues and so on—and there certainly were issues. Before I was elected, farmers dragged me out of a tent at the
Karoonda Farm Fair and said, ‘You’re going to be the next member for Hammond.’ I said, ‘You’re very positive; thanks
for that.’ Next, there was strong dialogue, and I still have great dialogues with those same people today. That started
with Australian Zircon sand mining for zircon, and down the track Murray Zircon came in. That is not to say that there
were not some issues.
When there were issues, I was very proactive working with the minister at the time, the Hon. Paul Holloway in the other
place, and I must commend him. I have relayed this story in here before: a week before the 2006 election when I came
into this place, he invited me to the turning of the sod for the Australian Zircon mine. I have never forgotten that and
wrote him a letter when he left acknowledging the interaction we had from those very early days. It is interesting to
acknowledge that he obviously thought that I was going to get elected as the member for Hammond. Well, he was
right, so that is a good thing.
When Murray Zircon came on board, one of the first things they did as part of that $40 million injection in Chinese
investment was to make sure that the rehabilitation was right, and that is exactly what they had to do under
regulation. I was a member of the Mindarie Community Consultative Committee, having worked with them before I
was even elected as a candidate. It was the same deal with the Strathalbyn Terramin mine: I worked with that
community before the election in 2006. Having a mine within a kilometre of the town engendered strong debate, and I
remember the town hall meetings with 300 people present. But we made it work.
For many years, they were very successful in mining lead and silver out of that mine. They have actually mined under
the Strathalbyn-Callington Road, but they had to leave enough ore body upstairs, obviously, to make sure the road did
not collapse. I did manage to venture underground a couple of times, and I vow and declare I will never be an
underground miner but it was good to go down and have a look.
Occasionally there are issues. People did not like the lighting, so I again worked with the minister of the day, the Hon.
Paul Holloway, to put in shading so that the lights operated appropriately. Some people think that these miners just
act and do whatever they can, but there is dust monitoring, noise monitoring and thousands and thousands of pages
of environmental work they have to do. It is amazing.
I have heard the commentary today about mining near vineyards—well, guess what? At Strathalbyn, that is exactly
what they were doing, mining near those iconic Langhorne Creek vineyards. The issue there was that the Langhorne
Creek winemakers made a decision not to make a big deal about it; they said, ‘We can work side by side. We’ll deal
with this.’ They did it, and they did it very successfully. We had dryland farming, we had vineyards and we had mining
working side by side. In fact, when there was some dewatering that needed to be done it was used for watering
vineyards. It was mining and agriculture working together.
That can happen, and quite frankly I get a bit sick of the conversations that say they cannot work together. It has been
proved they can; I have seen how it works. I am still on the Strathalbyn Community Consultative Committee in the
member for Heysen’s electorate—just because I have history, I guess; I just stay there without trying to encroach on his
patch. That mine is in abeyance at the moment, and they are looking at the Bird in Hand project in the member for
Kavel’s electorate. I acknowledge that is in the middle of vineyards. I have been out there and looked at the program,
opening up an old mine.
The gold gets better the deeper they go, and they do not even know how good the gold is yet. If they get down deep
enough and keep drilling, it will get better and, from what I can see, there will be minimum impact. There will be a bit
of a mound at the surface, there will be an incline at the top and there might be a dozen trucks a day accessing the
area if it does get approval. It has to go through all the approval processes, and I am well aware of the work they are
doing in regard to working through those processes. I note the member for Kavel’s interaction there with his
community, and I note the community’s interaction with the mine, but we just have to be realistic.
With Callington and Kanmantoo coming into the seat of Hammond, we have the Hillgrove mine there at Kanmantoo,
which is quite a big open-cut mine. I recently went on a trip there with Brand SA, and we had people from across the
board, people who had nothing to do with mining, who had very fixed views. One of those people—I think he was
from CMI Toyota—when we were looking at the environmental offsets that mine was doing above and beyond their
regulated role, said, ‘I have absolutely turned my mind around on how I view mining in South Australia.’ That is very
close to what he said, almost word for word.
They were planting trees and doing those environmental offsets to get the right outcome. Yes, it is an open-pit mine
and guess what? You will end up with an open hole. There is talk that it might be used to pump hydro if it stacks up,
and there is also talk that they are looking at tunnelling underneath to grab those other reserves of copper there at
Kanmantoo. Certainly I am working with the Kanmantoo Callington Community Consultative Committee as well to
make sure we get the right outcomes.
The local pub at Callington has been shut down for a while for various reasons, but a community centre is going in
there and they have been successful in getting some grant funding. Guess what? Hillgrove are putting a substantial
contribution to that community centre as well. That is not to say there have not been people with different views from
those of the mine owners, but they have got on that community consultative committee and worked through the
process—just as I have seen at Mindarie and just as I have seen at the Strathalbyn.
In fact, one of the farmers with exempt land and allowing exempt access to one of these mines that is in abeyance at
the moment now gets paid a cheque every year. I remember my last correspondence to the former minister, the now
shadow minister, was asking, ‘Where’s his money?’ So the cycle can turn around. There is also the silver mine right here
in the city, next to a house at the bottom of Glen Osmond. I do not know if you can go down it anymore, but I went
down it years ago and had a look around. I want to reflect on land use. People say that we would not dig up Rundle
Mall or the Botanic Garden.
Mr McBride: You would!
Mr PEDERICK: I will leave that. Some of the best land in the state—and I do not want to offend the good people of
Yorke Peninsula—would be under this building on the edge of the Torrens. We are not going to start bulldozing
Parliament House because we cannot farm it. It is the same argument. Some of the best land would be along the
banks of the River Torrens, as it was farmed all those years ago.
I want to reflect on some of our history and talk about some of the mining in our area and the Copper Coast. It is
obviously recognised as a region of this state, situated in the northern Yorke Peninsula and comprising the towns of
Wallaroo, Kadina, Moonta, Paskeville and Port Hughes. The area approximately bounded by Wallaroo, Kadina and
Moonta is also known as a the Copper Triangle. The area is so named because copper was mined there in the late 19
th
and early 20
th
centuries, a significant source of economic prosperity for South Australia at the time. These three towns
are known for their large Cornish ethnicity and often called Little Cornwall. Kernewek Lowender is the world’s largest
Cornish festival and held biennially in the Cornish Triangle.
I would like to give a little bit of history about the area becoming established as a source of copper. In 1861, Paddy
Ryan found copper traces coming out of a wombat’s burrow on a pastoral lease granted to Walter Watson Hughes.
Hughes formed the Tipara mining company, which later became the Moonta Mining Company, and by the late 1800s
Moonta had the largest urban population outside Adelaide, with 12,000 people, including many Cornish miners and
their families, who brought with them their skills and lifestyle. Much of the character of this period was captured by
local cartoonist Oswald Pryor (1881-1971), the son of a Cornish miner.
I want to reflect on Kernewek Lowender, the Copper Coast Cornish Festival, and give some commentary about the
2019 festival dates. The Kernewek Lowender Copper Coast Cornish Festival is held on the Copper Coast in regional
South Australia, in the coastal towns of Wallaroo, Moonta and Kadina. The region is full of Cornish buzz during the
festival week, and the local community welcomes approximately 45,000 people, who join in on the festivities and
celebrate the area’s Cornish heritage. There we go: mining has backed in not just this state but obviously the Yorke
Peninsula.
We have made so much in this state from mining and agriculture, and I note that we can work side by side with both
industries—many people from the agricultural sector have benefited from the mining industry—and we must keep
going. Yes, we do have to get the balance right, but the issue for me is—and I am not sure how much consultation we
need; we could consult forever—I do not think it would make some people happy and especially with some of the
words I have heard in this place today. My fear is that if people want to invoke veto, with no rights to minerals that are
obviously the property of the Crown, what do we do then? Do we invoke compulsory acquisition? That is not what I
am advocating. The point that I am making is: how do you manage it when it is owned by the Crown? The point I am
making is: be careful what you wish for.
We need to work through this. This is an improvement on the current legislation. We need to keep moving forward. I
acknowledge the work that Premier Steven Marshall and minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan are doing in working
through this process. I acknowledge the robust debate in our house and I acknowledge people’s choice—and I
absolutely respect it. But we must work hard so that we have a vibrant economy that relies on both mining and
agriculture.
Mr MALINAUSKAS (Croydon—Leader of the Opposition) (17:05): I move:
That the debate be adjourned.
The house divided on the motion:
Ayes 24
Noes 17
Majority 7
AYES
Bell, T.S. Bettison, Z.L. Bignell, L.W.K.
Boyer, B.I. Brock, G.G. Brown, M.E. (teller)
Close, S.E. Cook, N.F. Cregan, D.
Ellis, F.J. Gee, J.P. Hildyard, K.A.
Hughes, E.J. Koutsantonis, A. Malinauskas, P.
McBride, N. Mullighan, S.C. Murray, S.
Odenwalder, L.K. Piccolo, A. Picton, C.J.
Rau, J.R. Weatherill, J.W. Wortley, D.
NOES
Basham, D.K.B. Cowdrey, M.J. Duluk, S.
Harvey, R.M. (teller) Luethen, P. Marshall, S.S.
Patterson, S.J.R. Pederick, A.S. Pisoni, D.G.
Power, C. Sanderson, R. Speirs, D.J.
Teague, J.B. Treloar, P.A. van Holst Pellekaan, D.C.
Whetstone, T.J. Wingard, C.L.
PAIRS
Stinson, J.M. Chapman, V.A.
Motion thus carried; debate adjourned.
There being a disturbance in the strangers’ gallery:
The SPEAKER: The members of the gallery will cease making noises or I will respectfully have to ask you to leave,
thank you.
The Hon. D.C. VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN (Stuart—Minister for Energy and Mining) (17:11): I move:
That the debate be resumed on motion.
Mr MALINAUSKAS (Croydon—Leader of the Opposition) (17:12): I move that the motion be amended as follows:
The words ‘resumed on motion’ be deleted and replaced with ‘made an order of the day for 26 February 2019’.
The house divided on the amendment:
Ayes 24
Noes 18
Majority 6
AYES
Bell, T.S. Bettison, Z.L. Bignell, L.W.K.
Boyer, B.I. Brock, G.G. Brown, M.E. (teller)
Close, S.E. Cook, N.F. Cregan, D.
Ellis, F.J. Gee, J.P. Hildyard, K.A.
Hughes, E.J. Koutsantonis, A. Malinauskas, P.
McBride, N. Mullighan, S.C. Murray, S.
Odenwalder, L.K. Piccolo, A. Picton, C.J.
Rau, J.R. Weatherill, J.W. Wortley, D.
NOES
Basham, D.K.B. Cowdrey, M.J. Duluk, S.
Harvey, R.M. (teller) Knoll, S.K. Luethen, P.
Marshall, S.S. Patterson, S.J.R. Pederick, A.S.
Pisoni, D.G. Power, C. Sanderson, R.
Speirs, D.J. Teague, J.B. Treloar, P.A.
van Holst Pellekaan, D.C. Whetstone, T.J. Wingard, C.L.
PAIRS
Stinson, J.M. Chapman, V.A.
Amendment thus carried.
The SPEAKER: Now the question is that the motion as amended be agreed to.
Ayes 24
Noes 18
Majority 6
AYES
Bell, T.S. Bettison, Z.L. Bignell, L.W.K.
Boyer, B.I. Brock, G.G. Brown, M.E. (teller)
Close, S.E. Cook, N.F. Cregan, D.
Ellis, F.J. Gee, J.P. Hildyard, K.A.
Hughes, E.J. Koutsantonis, A. Malinauskas, P.
McBride, N. Mullighan, S.C. Murray, S.
Odenwalder, L.K. Piccolo, A. Picton, C.J.
Rau, J.R. Weatherill, J.W. Wortley, D.
NOES
Basham, D.K.B. Cowdrey, M.J. Duluk, S.
Harvey, R.M. (teller) Knoll, S.K. Luethen, P.
Marshall, S.S. Patterson, S.J.R. Pederick, A.S.
Pisoni, D.G. Power, C. Sanderson, R.
Speirs, D.J. Teague, J.B. Treloar, P.A.
van Holst Pellekaan, D.C. Whetstone, T.J. Wingard, C.L.
PAIRS
Stinson, J.M. Chapman, V.A.

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