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Protection of Prime Agricultural Land and Other Land from Coal Seam Gas Mining Bill 2013

On 7 June 2013, Mr Ray Hopper MP, Member for Condamine, introduced the Protection of Prime Agricultural Land and Other Land from Coal Seam Gas Mining Bill 2013.

According to the Explanatory Notes, the objectives of the Bill are to:

1.Prohibit all coal seam gas and exploration mining activities east of the Condamine River from Chinchilla to the New South Wales Border and from the longitudinal line running directly through the Chinchilla Post Office east to the coast, and
2.Protect any land under the Strategic Cropping Land Act 2011.

Call for submissions - the Bill is here

The committee invites written submissions on the Bill. The committee has yet to decide a closing date for submissions.

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The Protection of Prime Agricultural Land and Other Land from Coal Seam Gas Mining Bill 2013 was introduced to Queensland parliament in June, with the Agriculture, Resources and Environment Committee holding public hearings on the matter until 9 December 2013.

The committee, chaired by Member for Lockyer Ian Rickuss, is seeking to determine whether coal seam gas activity should be banned from prime farming land across the Darling Downs and in other parts of the state.

The bill seeks to prohibit "all coal seam gas exploration mining activities east of the Condamine River from Chinchilla to the New South Wales border and from the Longitudinal line running directly through the ChinChilla Post Office east to the coast".

The proposed changes have been meet with mixed reactions by both sides of the debate, highlighting the widening divide between those for and against the CSG industry.

But with growing concerns that water and CSG don't mix, many are in favour of the Bill.

The Condamine Catchment Management Association says it wholeheartedly supports the Bill saying it will act to provide farmers with security over their land.

"Depletion of high quality aquifers is a real possibility," they said.

"Preference is being given to mining and coal seam gas enterprises, which have a limited life, in preference to the long term need to save water resources and the most productive agricultural land," the group said.

The Queensland Murray-Darling Committee is also in favour of the legislation saying "agricultural areas should not be exposed to the hazards of CSG mining contamination such as brine and salt."

"Connectivity issues and the risk that the extraction of coal seam gas water will lead to the depletion of water quality and quantity in aquifers must be adequately legislated for," they said.

In a written submission, Arrow Energy said that coal seam gas production and farming can coexist, saying the bill could cost gas industry jobs.

With public hearings now finalised, the committee is set to report back to parliament on December 9, 2013.

The sector has been the subject of many protests and opposition, with anti-CSG activists arguing there is insufficient scientific evidence it will not affect water tables, the environment and the health of communities residing by wells.

In accordance with Standing Order 131, this Private Member's Bill has been referred to the Agriculture, Resources and Environment Committee for examination and report.

The committee will examine the policies the Bill seeks to give effect to, the Bill's lawfulness, and the application of fundamental legislative principles, as set out in section 4 of the Legislative Standards Act 1992.

The committee must report to Parliament on the Bill by 9 December 2013.

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