Landholders fail to get right to say no to CSG

A BILL to give landholders the right to say no to coal seam gas operations on their land was defeated by the Abbott government and Labor on Thursday.

The Greens bill, which attracted support from Democratic Labor Party Senator John Madigan, was defeated resoundingly, with just nine ayes votes against 50 naes.

But it has exposed the Coalition likely walking away from a pledge Prime Minister Tony Abbott made to farmers on the Darling Downs last year.

Mr Abbott, during a meeting in Tara, had promised to give landholders the right to say no to CSG companies, but his party, with Opposition support, voted down the Greens bill which could have made it a reality.

The Greens Senator Larissa Waters, who moved the bill, described the lack of such a mechanism as a "David and Goliath situation forced upon unwilling farming families".

"When Tony Abbott is out in the bush he says that mining companies shouldn't be allowed on farmers' land without permission but then he does nothing about it in Canberra," she said.

Industry Minister Ian MacFarlane's Senate representative, Senator Michael Ronaldson, read out a statement from the government defending its move to vote the bill down.

The statement said the government "not only supports, but expects the responsible development of resources with appropriate rights for landholders".

It also said "three coexistence principles" guided the government in that effort, including that resource development should "only occur with the farmer's agreement".

While such agreements are standard at the state level during landholder-miner negotiations, landholders are not technically able to prevent the exploitation of such resources under their land.

A statement filed with Senate Estimates recently revealed Mr Abbott's office had also not asked the Environment Department for any briefings on the pledge he made before the election.

Questions put to Mr Abbott's office about the matter remained unanswered this week.

Topics:  csg federal parliament

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