OCTOBER 30, 2016: Landholders across Western Australia have welcomed a decision by the National Party to support their right of veto over oil and gas companies wanting access to private land.
The WA National Party voted unanimously to support the right of veto for farmers and other landholders at their National Conference in Geraldton at the weekend.
Irwin mango farmer Rod Copeland said the vote was a welcome first step towards a more democratic and fair approach to access by oil and gas companies to agricultural and other land.
“This is something that rural and regional communities have been calling for, for quite some time. It is heartening to see the National Party listening to their heartland and supporting this move,” Mr Copeland said.
“One weakness is that any oil and gas company can buy a farm within the most productive farming areas of the state and ruin the whole community and impact all of the surrounding farmers. For example AWE has bought a 5000ha farm immediately across the road from me and plans to drill at least 40 gas wells there.
“Onshore oil and gas is like an iceberg, most of the activity happens underground were we cant see or monitor it properly. Gas companies can still drill under our properties without our consent.
“The gasfields of Queensland have clearly shown us that unconventional gas mining is an invasive, risky and unnecessary industry that threatens our land, our water, our existing agricultural businesses and our health.”
Boyanup landholder Kathy Thomson also welcomed the Nationals support for veto rights saying landholders were extremely worried by the threat that unconventional gas mining posed to many agricultural areas.
“It is unfair and unacceptable to allow oil and gas mining and exploration on land that has been developed and farmed by the sweat and toil of landholders. To think that a gas mining company, and possibly not even an Australian company can come in and destroy my land and take over my life makes me feel sick in the stomach.
“This decision by the Nationals is a small step towards protecting the rights of existing landholders against the might and greed of oil and gas mining companies.”
Spokesperson for Lock the Gate in WA Jane Hammond said the unanimous support for veto rights by the National Party delegates at the state conference demonstrated the extent of concern in regional and rural communities at the lack of a right to say no to the demands of the oil and gas industry.
“The Nationals have listened and acted to support their constituents and we heartily congratulate them on taking this important step. It is now vital that they get the support of their Liberal Party colleagues,” Ms Hammond said.
“It’s also very important that leaseholders and Indigenous Traditional Owners have similar rights of veto. We’d like to see the Nationals adopt a moratorium policy so that a lot more science is conducted before we do anything to put our water resources at risk.”
Further information: Jane Hammond 0403926467