New ‘umpire’ features in gasfields revamp

An independent ombudsman is to be appointed to work with Queensland landholders and gas companies on coal seam gas industry issues.

State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the new land access ombudsman was a central element of a revamp of the state’s Gasfields Commission and CSG dispute resolution system.

Former Queensland Farmers’ Federation boss Ruth Wade will head the new-look commission, which will have a new focus after three years of operation on the gasfields.

“Our multi-billion-dollar agriculture and LNG industries need to continue to co-exist in and around our regional communities,” Dr Lynham said.

“The new ombudsman will give landholders a trusted and independent decision maker to resolve issues before they escalate into full blown legal disputes.

‘As well, a more streamlined dispute resolution will be more cost-effective and efficient.                    

“Government will work with stakeholders, including the recently appointed President of the Land Court, to finalise legislative and regulatory changes to make this happen. 

“Our other reforms to the Gasfields Commission will allow it to continue the work of building sustainable coexistence, but with what is now an ongoing and mature industry.”

New chair Ruth Wade has more than 25 years’ experience in agriculture and business. She will be joined by Theodore cotton farmer Fleur Anderson, a passionate advocate for rural communities and small businesses. Current commissioners Ian Hayllor and Rick Wilkinson were reappointed.

Dr Lynham thanked the Gasfields Commission’s outgoing chairman John Cotter and the commissioners who had worked hard to establish the Commission since its inception in 2013.

“Their efforts over the past three years have been instrumental in the growth of the onshore gas industry in very challenging circumstances,” he said.

“Local workers are benefiting from the jobs, local businesses from the direct investment by the companies, and the royalty stream will support the state’s schools, hospitals and essential services for decades to come.”

The revamp follows an independent review by retired Land Court member Bob Scott, who interviewed more than 80 stakeholders including landholders, peak producer groups, industry, industry peak bodies, government agencies, local governments and community groups.

The new-look commission will:

  • reduce to one chair and three part-time commissioners
  • improve the information that is available to landholders
  • set up a community reference group to focus on health and wellbeing concerns for residents and their families in areas such as the Tara Estates.
  • work with the various agencies in the CSG industry to clarify their responsibilities and how they respond to inquiries and complaints.

The review report and the government’s response are available online at statedevelopment.qld.gov.au


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