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State's move to end sand mining extracts rights without compensation

1303425915 70 State's move to end sand mining extracts rights without compensation

SITE OF CONCERN: Stradbroke Island mining controversy.Picture: mark Calleja Source: the Courier-Mail

THE Government felt it could not get what it wanted under the existing rules so it changed the rules and trampled someone's rights along the way.

Whenever the State Government needs to resort to passing a new law to solve a particular problem, watch out  someone’s getting dudded.And so it is with the Government’s decision last week to introduce a special Act of Parliament to end sand mining on Stradbroke Island.the odd thing though is it’s a little hard, at first glance, to know who’s getting dudded. Is it Sibelco, the company doing the sand mining? the locals, who count on the mining for a living? the indigenous community, who are waiting to finalise their claims of ownership over much of the island? or those committed campaigners who have been fighting for years to get rid of mining from one of Queensland’s more precious natural attractions? No one seems particularly happy with the result except the Government, which has been running full-page ads praising itself for its greenness, presumably in the hope we, the voters, will be convinced. but that seems unlikely.Its advertising is so misleading that if the Government were a company subject to the Trade Practices Act it would be at serious risk of prosecution."North Stradbroke Island. protected from mining.” that was the headline on one recent government ad, which declared that 94 per cent of mining on the island would end by 2019. by 2019? Seven years from now? that sounds like protection all right. And what the ad does not say is that it will be 2025 before all mining on the island is scheduled to end.but the problem is not the Bligh Government’s shamelessness in declaring sows’ ears to be silk purses  that is just something politicians do as naturally as breathing. rather, it is the fact the Government has had to resort to new legislation to engineer this stunt because, as noted, whenever a government decides it has to change the rules to get what it wants, then someone’s rights are almost inevitably being trampled upon.but, says the Government, these new laws will bring an earlier-than-otherwise end to mining while also providing time for other, tourism-related industries to develop.Even if you accept that argument, someone has still been dudded and, in this case, it would certainly seem to be the mining company, Sibelco.In summary, under the new law, the company will not be allowed to renew existing mining leases when they expire.this move scares the state’s mining industry, which has long operated under the assumption that mining leases will be renewed as long as the terms and conditions of the lease are being met. but even more worrying for the industry and perhaps anyone who holds a government-granted lease of any type, the new legislation also takes away the company’s right to extract minerals from some of its existing mining leases. In other words, the Government is changing the terms of a legally granted lease even before it has expired. And to top it off, the legislation also removes the right to compensation.the Government is using the greater good argument for its actions."the principle that there should be a balance between individual and community interests is also relevant, as the bill is part of an overall policy package that aims to achieve an appropriate balance between the interests of some individuals (traditional owners, Sibelco, and others dependent on the mining-based economy) and the community interest in appropriately acknowledging traditional owners and in securing the environmental and cultural values of North Stradbroke Island for generations to come,” the Government says in the explanatory note to the new Act.Even if you agree with everything the Government has done, the fact remains it is taking away assumed rights without any compensation. Reconciling all the competing interests on Stradbroke Island  miners, residents, workers, tourists, traditional owners  was always going to be a challenge and perhaps a change to the law was always going to be needed in some form or another.Still, this whole exercise boils down to a simple but chilling proposition: the Government felt it could not get what it wanted under the existing rules so it changed the rules and trampled someone’s rights along the way.Mining companies are easy villains. but just think for a moment, who else it could happen to?- 

<a href=",2005:cluster=, 27 Mar 2011 12:59:07 GMT 00:00″>State's move to end sand mining extracts rights without compensation

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