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Federal Greens bill to use constitution to give farmers, native title holders and local councils right to say no to coal and gas

Media Release
Larissa Waters 4 Mar 2015

The Australian Greens will introduce a bill to the federal Parliament today that exercises constitutional powers to give landholders nationally the right to say no to coal and gas mining on their land.

“It’s a disgrace that landholders still do not have any legal rights to protect their land, water and the climate from coal and gas when the big mining companies come knocking,”  Queensland Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens mining spokesperson, said.

“When the science so far indicates such grave potential for damage to precious groundwater, landholders should have the right to say that they don’t want to take that risk.

“At the moment it’s a David and Goliath battle as the big mining companies know landholders don’t have any legal rights to refuse coal or gas mining.

“Our bill would use the corporations power under the Constitution to give landholders, including farmers, local councils and native title holders, the legal right to say no to coal and gas exploration and mining.

“Federally, the major parties try to fob off this issue as a state one, but the states have not acted to protect land, water and communities so it is time the Commonwealth stepped in to do so.

“In the New South Wales Parliament the major parties have failed to support the Greens in giving landholders the right to say no, even though our moves would not change the ownership of the resources as states would still retain the ability to compulsorily acquire land.

“This bill will test whether the National party are now owned by the big miners that donate to them, or whether they will be consistent in standing up in the Parliament for what they tell landholders in the bush.

NSW Greens spokesperson for mining, Jeremy Buckingham MLC, said:

“The Greens have legislation in both the state and federal parliaments to give landholders the right to say no. It’s time the other parties stood up for regional communities.

Senator Waters said the bill would also ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for unconventional gas.

“Fracking involves blasting millions of litres of water, chemicals and proppants into coal seams to create fissures so that gas can be extracted more readily. It is a dangerous process that is risking our geological stability and water quality and it needs to stop.

“We need to stop undermining sustainable employment in the agriculture and tourism for the sake of the private profits of big mining companies that mostly flow offshore. 

“It’s time for Australia to join the global movement against fracking.  Bans or moratoriums are already in place in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Wales, Scotland, New York State in the USA and Quebec in Canada,” Senator Waters said.

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