About 120 landowners from NSW and Queensland staged a sit-in at Parliament House in Canberra on June 20 to protest the federal government approval process for mining projects.
It follows the Liberal and Labor parties voting down legal changes to give farmers the right to say “no” to mining on their land, despite a new opinion poll that shows 86% of people support giving landowners the right to refuse access to miners.
Changes to how coal seam gas (CSG) applications are approved was also passed by the Senate on June 19. If a CSG development has a significant impact on a water resource, it can now trigger a review by the federal environment minister.
"The current expansion of coal and gas mining across the country is one of the gravest threats Australia has ever faced as a nation," said Drew Hutton, president of Lock The Gate Alliance.
"While new laws passed yesterday to assess water resources are welcome, we are disappointed that both major parties voted against giving farmers the right to say 'no' to mining, leaving them to fend for themselves when the mining giants come knocking.
"We've come here today to ask the federal coalition to give landowners a 'fair go' — by supporting a legal right to say 'no' to coal and gas mining and acting to strengthen Federal laws around mining rather than weakening them as they have foreshadowed," he said.
Tourism operator Innes Larkin said: "I'm a tourism operator from the beautiful Scenic Rim region of Queensland, but I don't have the legal right to protect my property or my business from coal and gas mining.
"This is fundamentally unjust and it's time for our federal politicians to protect their citizens and to make new laws that will put our most significant land and water resources off limits" he said.
Farmer Phil Laird said: "As a farmer from north-western NSW I've seen that the balance of power to negotiate is disproportionate between farmers and multinational mining companies. The only way to restore that balance is to give farmers the right to say no.
"Surveys of communities across north-west NSW have found that 96% of landholders reject coal seam gas mining.
"We're calling for all political parties to strengthen federal laws to control mining and to put in place strong measures to protect farmland and communities. We're seeking the support of the Liberal National Party to defend our country.”