16 May 2023. By AgForce CEO Michael Guerin.
As someone who likes a peaceful life, conflict is not my favourite pastime.
That’s why I’m nice to colleagues, show consideration for my neighbours, and always come back from the pub when my wife tells me.
I’m not alone.
Coexistence is the pillar that sustains numerous aspects of human life, and living in harmony with others not only helps to guarantee survival, but also promotes well-being and progress.
So, when it comes to the GasFields Commission Queensland’s review into coal seam gas-induced subsidence, it’s good to know that the State Government is supporting important recommendations to help strengthen protections that allow the resource and agriculture sectors to coexist.
However, while their approach is directionally correct - it’s manifestly inadequate.
Clearly more needs to be done if we are to protect our key ag land and water assets for food and fibre production for future generations.
As an example, AgForce is deeply concerned to see the continuing expansion of CSG mining activity on prime ag land where there is already evidence of subsidence damage.
Impact avoidance must be the first priority. Without an immediate and strong use of the ‘precautionary principle’ we risk compromising a valuable and irreplaceable community asset forever.
Don’t get me wrong, industry and community do not begrudge coexistence generally for the benefit of all.
However, the Government assumes coexistence can occur everywhere and this is simply not the case.
Decision making must be based on scientific evidence, with baselines developed and impact research undertaken - before resource activity commences.
In addition, we need to strengthen the ability of landholders to negotiate strongly with those seeking access to their land - rather than allowing companies to self-assess their impacts or use ‘bully boy’ tactics (such as the threat of going to the Land Court) to curtail the consideration of landholders’ interests.
Simply put, the Government must redouble its efforts on this issue and ensure agriculture is an equal at the table.
We welcome the opportunity to work together to effectively reform the system and protect our irreplaceable land and water assets.