Frecklington: ‘Don’t rip it up, let’s reuse it’


MINING companies are being forced to fill in dams that drought-stricken Queensland farmers want, in a bizarre regulation designed to rehabilitate agricultural land.

The LNP has revealed the "silly" regulation forces natural gas companies to destroy perfectly good infrastructure that could boost agricultural productivity. The opposition, the Queensland Farmers' Federation and AgForce are all bidding to streamline the laws to benefit farmers.

Petroleum proponents are currently obliged to rehabilitate land they have used in Queensland, which in some cases includes removing things like gates, grids and dams when they're no longer needed.

But the Opposition wants farmers to be able to repurpose the infrastructure.

LNP leader Deb Frecklington said "silly regulation" was holding back Queensland industry and costing jobs.

"If I was premier, my government would work with industry to cut unnecessary regulation," she said.

"Forcing natural gas companies to rip up perfectly good water, road and fence infrastructure that could boost agricultural productivity is just plain dumb.

"If farmers want the dam, the irrigation system, the gate or the grid, it shouldn't be ripped up, it should be repurposed."

Deb Frecklington with farmer Simon Drury. Picture: Gordon Fuad
Deb Frecklington with farmer Simon Drury. Picture: Gordon Fuad

Ms Frecklington said there was almost a billion dollars worth of infrastructure that could be repurposed, giving the state's agriculture sector a massive boost, particularly when two-thirds of the state is in drought.

In a Queensland Resources Council report released this month, the body called for a "simplified process for asset handover to landholders, including as it relates to progressive certification, surrender and residual risk".

Condabri farmer Simon Dury has benefited from a large dam, roads, fences and gates installed for natural gas production on his 7000-acre cattle farm.

He said he would "happily accept" keeping the useful infrastructure instead of seeing it removed.

"If the landholder can make use of a dam or a road or a grid then why not give it to them? I would have thought common sense would prevail," he said.

AgForce chief executive Michael Guerin said it "fully endorses" the LNP's latest proposal, and called for the Palaszczuk Government to match it.

"It makes no sense to remove good and strong infrastructure," he said.

"We're the biggest agricultural state in Australia and those assets can be put to work to support industry.

"They're built to the highest quality so they can be confidently left behind.

He said AgForce had been calling for the change.

"Industry is a little frustrated that what seems like an obvious solution is still part of discussions," he said.

"It's enormously frustrating, water is one of the absolute necessities for agriculture and the state does it poorly."

Originally published as Frecklington: 'Don't rip it up, let's reuse it'