Liberal Member for Narungga Fraser Ellis MP in Parliament yesterday sat with the cross bench to vote with Labor on a motion to delay further debate on the Statutes Amendment (Mineral Resources) Bill until February next year.
Mr Ellis reported he was left with little choice after his amendments to the bill were voted down by his party room last night.
“I don’t oppose my party easily, but on the matter of farmland access rights and a Mining Bill that so closely resembles Labor’s version presented this time last year during harvest, I felt I had no choice.
“As stated in my speech today, I promised Narungga constituents before the election more meaningful consultation on this bill before its introduction to Parliament, and in my view, this hasn’t occurred so by adjourning the Bill this gives more time for this consultation.
“I also was incredibly disappointed in the timing of the bill’s debate, scheduled during harvest just as the previous Labor Government had done. The vote yesterday effectively was for a harvest moratorium on the debate, set now for recommencement on 26 February 2018. “
Mr Ellis refutes that his stance taken, and that of his three-fellow regional-based colleagues who sat on the crossbench for the vote with him (Steve Murray, Dan Cregan and Nick McBride) signals serious division within the Marshall Liberal Government team.
“There was respectful debate within the party room, and our intentions were known. I sincerely appreciate the support of the Premier and Minister van Holst Pellekaan who encourage at all times to stand up for our local constituents – that is the great strength of our party, that members are allowed to stand up for their electorates.
“I don’t oppose my party easily, but for as long as I am the Member for Narungga I will be a Local Member first, and Party member second.
“By adjourning the Mining Bill, the extra time means we now have time to pursue amendments that can strengthen protections for landholders against being forced off their land by mining companies. “