Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Landholders’ Right to Refuse (Gas and Coal) Bill 2013

Bill home page  


Download WordDownload Word


Download PDFDownload PDF

 

 

2013

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

THE SENATE

 

 

 

 

 

Landholders’ Right to Refuse (Gas and Coal) Bill 2013

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of Senator Waters)

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

Landholders’ Right to Refuse (Gas and Coal) Bill 2013

 

Outline

 

The Landholders’ Right to Refuse (Gas and Coal) Bill 2013 provides Australian landholders the right to refuse the undertaking of gas and coal mining activities on their land.

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

Part 1 - Preliminary

 

Clauses 1

This is a formal provision specifying the short title.

 

Clause 2

The bill’s provisions are to commence the day after the bill receives Royal Assent.

 

Clause 3 and 4 - Definitions

These clauses provide definitions of key terms used in the Act, including the meaning of ownership interests in food producing land.

 

Clause 5 - 6 Act bind the Crown, extension to external Territories

These clauses provide that the Crown is bound by the Act, and that the Act will extend to Australia’s external territories.

 

Clause 7 - Relationship to State and Territory laws

This clause clarifies that, to the extent possible, the Act is not intended to exclude or limit the operation of any state or territory laws that are capable of operating concurrently.

 

Part 2 -Gas or coal mining on food producing land without prior written authorisation is unlawful

 

Clause 8 - Application

This clause requires that corporations need to secure written authorisation prior to commencing any exploration or production of gas or coal. The intention is that prior written authorisation must be secured prior to any new activities commencing. The provisions are not intended to apply to activities already being undertaken before the commencement of the Act. For example, if a corporation has already started exploring for gas or coal on particular land before the Act commences, authorisation to continue that activity after commencement will not be required. Authorisation will be required, however, if the corporation wishes to engage in activities for the purpose of producing gas or coal on that land after commencement.

 



Clause 9  - Gas or coal mining on food producing land without prior written authorisation is unlawful

This provision provides that it is an offence for constitutional corporations to enter or remain on food producing land for the purpose of engaging in gas or coal mining activity, or to actually engage in such activity if the corporation does not own that land. The penalty is high, reflecting the seriousness of the offence. There is an exception for corporations; that is, if they have a prior written authorisation from every person with an ownership interest in the land to engage in the otherwise-prohibited activity. The corporation bears an evidential burden in relation to this matter, which is appropriate given that it is a straightforward matter for the corporation to produce a written authorisation if they do indeed have one.

 

Clause 10 - Action for gas or coal mining on food producing land without prior written authorisation.

This clause provides that a land owner can bring a civil action against a corporation that has contravened provisions of the Act in relation to that land owner’s land, within 6 years of the contravention.

 

Part 3 - Prior written authorisations for gas or coal mining on food producing land

 

Clause 11 - Obtaining prior written authorisation

This clause provides for the steps that corporations need to follow in order to comply with the Act when conducting gas or coal mining activities on food producing land. The clause sets out the process that needs to be followed in acquiring prior written authorisation from relevant land owners, and also what must be contained in a prior written authorisation. A prior written authorisation is invalid if it does not comply with the requirements of this clause.

 

Part 4 - Remedies

 

Clause 12 - Remedies in actions for gas or coal mining on food producing land without prior written authorisation

This clause sets out the relief that a court may grant to a land owner bringing an action in accordance with section 10, and specifically that:

-          A court may grant, vary or discharge a permanent or interim injunction;

-          The court must order that all costs incurred by a land owner in an action under this Act are to be paid by the respondent corporation, except where the action is vexatious or unreasonable.

 

Part 5 - Other matters

 

Clause 13 - Application of this Act to joint ventures and partnership

This clause provides for the application of the Act to joint ventures and partnerships. The Act is intended to apply to any corporation that engages in gas or coal activities, even when the activities are undertaken within a partnership or joint venture arrangement. The clause sets out how corporations within such arrangements are able to discharge their obligations under the Act.

 

Clause 14 - Regulations

This clause provides for the Governor-General to make regulations under this Act.



Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

Landholders’ Right to Refuse (Gas and Coal) Bill 2013

 

This Bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

 

Overview of the Bill/Legislative Instrument

The Bill provides Australian landholders the right to refuse the undertaking of gas and coal mining activities on their land.

 

Human rights implications

This Bill has no negative human rights implications.

 

Conclusion

This Bill has no negative human rights implications.