Could this fix the feud between farmers and miners? 42



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The conflict between coal farmers and mining companies cannot be allowed to escalate. Following the tragic story of George Bender, it has become clearer than ever that something needs to change, and fast.

Former Liberal party president Shane Stone agrees – and he has a strong suggestion on how to start setting things right.

“This is a really important issue,” Stone told The Guardian. “We can have this conversation now or in 10 or 20 years when some farmer or two shoots a miner”.

Stone, now the head of the Coalition’s Northern Australian advisory group, has suggested a system in which mining companies, states and landowners could negotiate to share the revenue.

He described this as “not dissimilar” to the agreement that could be reached with native title holders under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act.

His group advised that this would be “more harmonious” for both relationships and the impact on the land itself.

Stone’s fellow panel member, Ken Warriner, said mining companies needed to better understand the damage they caused.

“The miners up until maybe the last 10 years have enormous political support but I think they have overdone it in a lot of areas,” he said.

“I’ve been dealing with them for the past 30 or 40 years and particularly in central Australia and south-west Queensland down in the Cooper basin … we eventually got deals out of them that were quite reasonable but by gee it took some years of discussing it and getting them to understand the traumas that they cause”.

“Mining companies have got to realise that there is a lot of disturbance out there and the law does have it that you’ve got to compensate for that.

“I think where you get into that closer in country around where [George Bender] committed suicide, I have flown over it a lot … and gee whiz, saying it doesn’t affect the land, that is absolute bullshit.

“You can see the roads going everywhere there and vehicles and there is a lot of trauma.

“Now I reckon if it was a negotiation where these farmers – and I’m not saying how much they would get, they would probably not get anywhere near what they get in the US – but as long as there is a compensatory thing and they get it when something is found”.

Do you agree? Would you like to see such a system in place? And is it truly enough to ease  tensions between farmers and mining companies? 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. The sad thing about these farmers are that they are honest men and women, they take the hard road and choose to die rather than shoot others but desperate people do desperate things and it will be only a matter of time before someone takes it into their own hands to shoot someone else instead. Get these mines away from our farming land.. The Nullabor is empty.. mine it

    2 REPLY
    • Deserts are not empty. They are full of life in a different form even if they are not familiar to us. Aboriginal people have lived in the desert for thousands of years through good and bad times and know the land well and love it/identify with it. They have devised ways of caring for the land and established a way of sharing responsibilities.
      Mining companies come and go with little or no consideration given to the long term impacts. We the people will eventually pick up the tab for the cleanup. The royalties don’t really compensate for the long term and hidden costs.
      Not only should farming communities be able to say no to mining companies but governments should demand a cleanup and disaster fund to be determined by independent councils and paid into by the mining companies.
      This will sort out those who want to make a quick buck from those who care for the long term viability of the mining operations and the communities in which they operate.

    • Our wonderful NSW state government just changed the laws to allow mining companies to do seismic tests within 50m of houses. Now mining companies can enter your land at will with only 21 days notice and you have no say in their decision. Thanks very much Mike Baird… 🙁

  2. My point is, mining companies reap the profits & money going back to the overseas countries. When all minerals gone, a gaping wound in our land is left when they depart. Maybe a few local jobs gone but if we have to forgo our future food sustainability to feed this nation our gov who supports this is insane & incompetent.
    The small amount of royalties is not worth it, we can do better by supporting business, rural businesses & food growing. The world needs food.

  3. Farmers are our life line!
    Tell the mining companies to go out bush where there are no farms and dig their damn holes out there and leave our farmers alone!

  4. Oh my Word! They just DON’T get it! Fracking is poisoning our precious water systems. George had lost most of his wells through this! We are losing our precious Farming land. Where will our food come from?! You will never get this land back! It’s so Liberal, this solution! Just throw money at it! That will fix the problem! Well, no it won’t! Former Liberal member Shane Stone,admits to being shocked when he flew over the area near George Bender’s farm lies,and he says the mining companies have gone too far! Well,George didn’t want compensation,and the farmers that hold their properties as legacies from one generation to the next,don’t want money thrown at them. They love and cherish the Land!They can’t bear to see the wholesale destruction of Our Land! As for selling it off to China….talk about selling your soul!!! How dare our Government keep doing this. They are all in it for what they can get out of it! They don’t give a fig for the people on the land and they have no conscience! They will be accountable!!

    13 REPLY
    • You are sadly 100% so right Catherine. Giving money to people who love every bit of soil and drop of water is not the answer, they don’t want that, bugger off mining that will make them happy.

    • Very well written Catharine, it’s good to know that so many people are being vocal on this subject. The next time we vote we need to know what the Governments future plan on CSG & vote accordingly.

    • Its NO No No to selling off the country to anyone, USA, UK, France, Germany, Russia. Not just China!.
      But also lets not forget that Some of our own entrepreneurs have done terrible things and betrayed the trust of the people.
      Greed is not limited to one country/race/class of people.

    • Oh Lorraine,I just hope they hold the face of George in their mind and all those other faces of utter despair of our farmers,at being harassed and bullied to death,all in the name of Corporate Greed!

    • well written Catherine and you hit the nail on the head, this extended beyond the farms and worries those of us in the cities, our farmers are this countries life blood

    • They are our life blood Libbi,you are so right,and this greedy government totally ignores that fact! It is busy selling the “Farm” to China,and we will all be eating Coal if it’s up to them!

    • You are soo right Catharine, Money isn’t worth the lives of our farmers. We depend on them for our food. And not only that we are morally obliged to stand behind them.

    • Well said Catherine, do they really think the farmers can be brought off like the government and others? Cash won’t keep our water clean or the soil rich to grow the food we need. And once tgey gave raped the inland they will start on the towns and citys its scary fir our future

    • Very well said! The trouble is, they think money solves everything. It clearly doesn’t in this instance!

  5. Well said, Catherine. Anything for the unholy dollar. No amount of money will fix contaminated water. The powers that be want to start fracking near Mt. Gambier, SA, where the famous, pristine Blue Lake is the water supply for the town. No doubt they will go ahead because the State is broke thanks to years of mismanagement by Labor.

  6. Why should farmers only be compensated if ‘something is found’. They should be compensated from the very beginning of exploratory digging they are the ones who’s lives and livelyhood are disrupted!!

  7. No I don’t see this an answer. The potential damage to Australia’s water resources from CSG and some other mining impacts an area much greater than the farm the mining is carried out on. The gaping wounds leave an unproductive area of land for generations. I live in an historic old copper mining town and there are large areas of land that will probably never be viable farm land again. To allow the much more destructive open cut mining in our best agricultural land seems insane.

  8. This is no solution, offering money in exchange for destruction is immoral. CSG effects all of us, not just farmers, I want to know the food I eat is not irrigated with polluted water, I want the government to protect our farm land, who ever owns it, who ever lives on it…. It has to be protected for future generations

  9. Why are the Government looking after the miners? As someone else commented, the money goes off shore. It wouldn’t be so bad if they were leaving productive farms alone and there must be huge places in this vast country where there’s no farming, agriculture or housing. Their bullying tactics are just so wrong. Why have they not been paying farmers and leaving land as they found it? It’s time the Govt. got rid of them or don’t they want future generations to have fresh AUSTRALIAN produce. Oh that’s right, they have done deal with China. Enough said!!! That way they won’t have to pay age pension as we won’t live long enough to get it.

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