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Groups reject legislation to stop gas companies

THE National Farmers Federation has objected to legislation that seeks to ban fracking and empower landholders to refuse entry to gas companies on their land.

The peak agricultural body said the Landholders' Rights to Refuse Bill had failed to specify legal rights, protections and obligations across all states and territories.

In a written submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications, the NFF said it was a "clumsy and simplistic" Bill.

"Additionally, the NFF would seek further clarification as to whether the Bill would change the ownership/access abilities of the government to gas and mineral resources, by giving the right of access decision to the landholder," it said.

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The NFF, one of nine organisations and government departments to speak at the Canberra hearings, urged the Senate to reject the Bill.

The Federal Department of Agriculture submitted the proposed legislation was not an "appropriate use of the Commonwealth's constitutional powers".

Ian Thompson of the department's Sustainability and Biosecurity Policy division said the power to govern land rights should remain with state governments and co-existence was possible through greater education and understanding.

"Community confidence in shale and coal seam gas extraction will be improved by monitoring the impact of hydraulic fracturing activities on local environments, including water resources," the submission said.

The Minerals Council of Australia has labelled the Bill as "unwarranted, unreasonable and unworkable" in its submission to the federal inquiry.

It said any federal legislation would undermine the ability to states and territories to "realise the economic potential of its resource endowment for the benefit of the broader community".

"There are a range of safeguards already in place which afford protection to the landholder," the statement said.

It said the Gasfields Commission on the Darling Downs had been established to help landholders negotiate and liaise with mining companies which promote coexistence between the two parties.

It also raised concerns about the provision of dispute resolution in the Bill.

The submission was endorsed by the Queensland Resource Council.

Topics:  coal seam gas mining national farmers federation



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