Last sitting week was personally challenging as it was again with a heavy heart that I felt compelled to sit with the cross bench in the chamber to oppose the passage of the Statutes Amendment (Mineral Resources) Bill 2018.
Whilst this action and that of my three Liberal colleagues has received considerable publicity, I reiterate I did so in the belief the Bill does not sufficiently balance the interests of freehold owners of agricultural land and the many mining companies seeking to dig beneath their crops in search for minerals.
Whilst minor amendments have been incorporated into the Bill, our efforts failed to incorporate any key improvements nor an independent review of the Mining Act despite this course being supported by both Grain Producers South Australia and the South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy.
As stated in my speech in the House, only the result of a review at arm’s length of government and a department serving as both promoter and regulator of mining activities can dictate meaningful reform. We do not have to reinvent the wheel on this issue. Already other interstate jurisdictions are dealing with land access conflicts better than us.
The Bill is now with the Legislative Council so with interest I will follow the debate in the Upper House. Re the notice of motion just prior to the House of Assembly vote from Independent Member for Frome Geoff Brock calling for a commission of inquiry into land access regimes, I look forward to seeing the details and what can come from that move.
To the many landowners from Yorke Peninsula and across the State who rallied on the steps of Parliament and stayed until nearly midnight in the Chamber to watch the passage of the Bill, I regret we didn’t get the outcome we wanted but reassure the work does not end here.
The State Budget
Last update I welcomed the $568,000 allocated for sporting groups across Narungga electorate, the $4 million for a Regional Coast Protection Fund, and the $303,000 for Yorketown Airstrip to seal the runway.
Budget announcements since have included the $15 million to commence the $90 million Port Wakefield overpass project now in its final design phase; $11 million road funding to improve access to the Dublin saleyards; $15 million for the Regional Growth Fund (applications now open); and the continuance of the $14 million annual funding to specifically improve facilities in regional hospitals.
Wakefield Regional Council has also received $62,000 for its “Bridging the Walk the Yorke” project at Port Wakefield, and most recently, a new “Seafood on Spencer” event for Port Broughton and the Yorke Peninsula Saltwater Classic were announced as successful recipients from the 2019-20 Regional Events & Festivals Program.
Well done to the parochial locals who are behind these important projects.