More Liberal MPs dig in to fight mining Bill

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Farmers call for review of land access rights


TAKE A STAND: Liberal backbenchers Fraser Ellis, Dan Cregan and Steve Murray cross the floor during Wednesday night’s vote on the Mining Bill; from top, farmers rally against the Bill and Premier Steven Marshall during the vote. Picture: TOM HUNTLEY

TWO more Liberal MPs have confirmed they’ll vote against the State Government’s contentious Mining Bill when it reaches the Upper House.

Stakeholder groups have launched a renewed push for an independent review into mining regulations, as the Government’s legislation is set to pass the Upper House with Labor support.

The Bill, which farmers say gives them too few protections against mining companies accessing their land, passed the Lower House on Wednesday, despite four Liberal backbenchers crossing the floor to oppose it.

Liberal MPs Terry Stephens and Dennis Hood told The Advertiser they would also cross the floor to oppose the Bill in the Upper House, with Mr Stephens saying “no significant improvements” had been made to it.

“I’ve said previously that I owe my position in Parliament to the Liberal Party’s rural and regional committee. They’re opposed to the Bill and I’ll be voting in support of their views,” Mr Stephens said.

“I’m quite proud of the principled position some of my colleagues took (in crossing the floor on Wednesday) and I’ll be doing the same thing when I vote against it in the Upper House.”

Mr Hood issued a short statement that he “can’t support the Bill in its current form”.

Even if they were joined in opposing the Bill by the Greens, SA Best and independent MP John Darley, they would fall four votes short of blocking the legislation.

Grain Producers SA president Wade Dabinett said he was disappointed the Bill had passed the Lower House, but backed a proposal by Frome MP Geoff Brock to establish an independent review into mining regulations.

Mr Brock said his Bill, set to be formally introduced on July 31, would look into land access schemes and regulations in other jurisdictions, the operations of the Department of Energy and Mining and options for a “best-practice model” in South Australia.

Mr Dabinett said: “The fact that four Liberals, and three independent MPs voted against this Bill ought to show that serious concerns remain. These concerns can only be properly addressed through an independent review.”

SA Chamber of Mines and Energy president Greg Hall said the Bill’s passing was a “positive step” but a structural review of the Mining Act was necessary.

Liberal backbenchers Nick McBride, Fraser Ellis, Steve Murray and Dan Cregan, who have all called for an independent review, said they would not comment on Mr Brock’s Bill until they had seen it. Labor and the Government have yet to declare a position.