Katter to call for CSG compensation after Bender meeting

MAVERICK Queensland MP Rob Katter is expected to table seven resolutions made at last week's emotion-charged Chinchilla meeting in state parliament recommending landholders be compensated for negotiations with CSG companies.

Tim Treadgold

Just over 100 people showed up to last week’s meeting where seven resolutions were resoundingly agreed to, which Katter and a working group of various landholders and local organisations will review before the MP takes it to the state government.

Sources at the meeting told ICN sister publication Energy News that some emotional stories aired at the meeting, including local Joe Hill who spoke about friendship with George Bender, whose family vowed a “huge, huge fight” against the CSG industry after he committed suicide last year after alleged harassment by CSG companies.

Bender’s daughter Helen was also among those who spoke at the meeting, Energy News understands.

The meeting requested that Katter, in his role as leader of the Queensland leader of Katter’s Australian Party, take the issue up with the state government, requiring early negotiation of access and costs and removing the automatic right to send unresolved disputes to the Land Court.

The resolutions also want reimbursement for negotiation costs and any alleged breach to require a cessation of work until the issue is resolved, and that there be an “absolute” exclusion area of 1km around “any permanent building used for the purpose of a residence of landowner or employees”

The meeting was told gas companies have been known to refuse to reimburse landowners until an agreement is signed, which illustrates the disparity of power between small landholders and multi-national oil and gas firms.

The meeting further asked that a provision which allows permanent employees to live in onsite camps be revoked so that permanent employees are domiciled in local towns.

A sixth resolution called on the state government to undertake a study into the health impacts of CSG with an emphasis on mental health impacts and amelioration measures which also includes that strategic ambient air quality monitoring program, something that was also recommended by anti-CSG independent Senator Glenn Lazarus in his minority report from the Commonwealth’s review into CSG.

The meeting also wants a blanket ban around Hopeland, where there is an exclusion zone is a result of underground coal gasification operations undertaken by Linc Energy and declared Queensland’s largest environmental disaster.

Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association Chief Executive Dr Malcolm Roberts said “the overwhelming fact is that the growth of the CSG industry has been achieved through co-operation and compromise between the industry, land owners and the community”

“The result has been more jobs, revitalisation of country towns and more resilient, diversified regional economies,” he said.

Dr Roberts said APPEA did not deny there had been individual cases of conflict between landowners and the industry, but he said companies strove to make development work for both the industry and landowners.

“Mistakes and misunderstandings, on both sides, can still happen (but) dishonest scare campaigns by activists have not helped,” he said.

APPEA says more than 5000 land access agreements have been signed to date and more than $238 million has been paid to paid to land owners to June 2015.

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