- Isobel Cootes
Agricultural bodies are hopeful a bill promising reforms to the Mining Act 1971 will properly address land access concerns raised by farmers in its third reading in parliament ‘sometime soon’.
The second reading of the Statutes Amendment (Mineral Resources) Bill was adjourned during debates on November 27 last year.
Growers and agricultural bodies are concerned that land used as a cultivated field, plantation, orchard or vineyard for commercial purposes are exempt, but an exploration company can go to court and challenge the decision.
Member for Flinders Peter Treloar said he expected the bill to sit for its third reading sometime soon, possibly in the state government’s next sitting this month.
“A lot of people are interested to see how the debate unfolds,” Mr Treloar said.
“(The amendment is) well overdue, the original bill dates back to 1971 and much has changed since then.
“It is really important that the bill addresses the concerns of all sectors in the community.”
However, Mr Treloar said the bill still had a little way to go in government procedure before it could become legislation.
A major review was conducted into the legislation in 2016 which resulted in a bill, however it lapsed due to the 2018 state election. The Statutes Amendment Bill was introduced after the election.
Grain Producers SA chief executive officer Caroline Rhodes said the organisation believed the bill left many issues unresolved.
She said GPSA had provided a paper to the government outlining a range of amendments which would better balance the competing interests between land owners and tenement holders.
“The government’s Mining Bill leaves many issues unresolved for agriculture and doesn’t meaningfully address the land access conflicts that we’ve seen under the existing law,” she said.
“These amendments incorporate… concerns raised at recent grower meetings across SA, such as improved land access provisions and a fairer compensation system for affected land owners.”
Ms Rhodes said GPSA continued to argue for the establishment of an advisory service, to provide free, confidential and independent advice to growers facing land access issues.
She said an independent review was urgently required before the bill became law.